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After $19M Spent to Curb Overcrowding, Lincoln Elementary Might Downsize

By  Mina Bloom and David Matthews | November 13, 2015 6:58am 

 Students on the first day of the 2015-2016 school year at Abraham Lincoln Elementary, 615 W. Kemper Place, in Lincoln Park.
Students on the first day of the 2015-2016 school year at Abraham Lincoln Elementary, 615 W. Kemper Place, in Lincoln Park.
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DNAinfo/Mina Bloom

LINCOLN PARK —  Just months after Lincoln Elementary School unveiled its controversial multi-million-dollar annex meant to address overcrowding, Chicago Public Schools is now considering eliminating the school's international gifted program, which could lead to fewer students and teacher layoffs.

School Principal Mark Armendariz announced the news at a local school council meeting at Lincoln Elementary, 615 W. Kemper Place, earlier this week, according to members of the council. The change would take effect sometime after the 2016-2017 school year. 

Lincoln is currently the only school in CPS that offers the program, which enrolls about 90 gifted sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, most of them from outside of the Lincoln attendance area. Under the program, students are provided bus transportation. 

Eliminating the program could mean a drop in enrollment, according to members of the council who were briefed on the possible move.

Of the 90 students in the program, roughly 60 of them live outside of the neighborhood. If the program is cut and those students are not brought in, enrollment would likely fall.

The move could also lead to teacher layoffs, though it is unclear how many. 

Despite promising to respond, Chicago Public Schools could not confirm whether the district was considering the move or provide any additional information Thursday evening.

The news comes just months after the official unveiling of Lincoln's multi-million-dollar, 19-classroom annex, which was built to address overcrowding at the school.

The annex, which was paid for through state funds raised from online gambling on horse races, increased the school capacity's by 420 students 

Building an annex was a controversial solution to the school's overcrowding problem. Some questioned whether Lincoln was getting more attention than other schools with worse overcrowding because of its location in affluent Lincoln Park. 

Bronzeville's Dyett School hunger strikers and supporters crashed the ribbon-cutting ceremony in September, which led to shouting matches between Lincoln parents and supporters. Some needed to be physically restrained by other people at the event before they came to blows. One of the parents burst into tears.

Lisa Barrow, a member of the local school council, said Armendariz would like to see a similar program replace the international gifted program if it is cut. Armendariz did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Ogden International Elementary, 24 W. Walton St., was the only other school to offer the program, but the district cut it this summer. According to Ogden officials, affected students are still able to continue their advanced studies, and are encouraged to enroll in the school's K-12 international baccalaureate curriculum. 

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