ROGERS PARK — New Field Elementary School will see fourth-graders in its hallways for the first time come fall, the school said on its Facebook page Monday night — confirming the approval of a plan Chicago Public Schools officials announced in the last week of school.
"Chicago Public Schools informed us today that we are officially a Pre-Kindergarten through fourth grade school," the school wrote. "We are excited and hope that you are ready for New Field Elementary to shine even more!"
CPS officials did not respond to request for comment.
On June 15, a Chicago Public Schools official told Rogers Park parents he had "100 percent confidence" a plan to shift the fourth-grade class between two neighborhood schools would be approved by CPS in the coming days.
James Dispensa, manager of demographics and space planning for CPS, said he began looking at numbers from New Field third-graders in April and realized there was a "drop-off" when it came to those students following through to nearby Eugene Field Elementary School, 7019 N. Ashland Blvd., which holds fourth through eighth grades.
Under the new plan, the fourth-grade class would be moved from Eugene Field to New Field, said Dispensa and Phil Salemi, director of the CPS network that includes the schools.
Though many parents at the mid-June meeting said they had expressed wishes for New Field Elementary to add a fourth grade, if not find a way to create a traditional K-8 school, some expressed concerns about the lack of a long-term future "plan" and sudden timing.
Since neither school fit the K-8 model, administrators said the new plan would be an easy way to make New Field closer to an elementary school, and Eugene Field more like a middle school.
Parents and teachers at New Field expressed worry that the plan didn't offer a long-term vision for what would become of either school: Eugene Field is already only 43 percent utilized (underutilized by CPS standards) and would lose its fourth-graders.
CPS has not said what will happen to fourth-grade teachers at Eugene Field.
At New Field, 1707 W. Morse Ave., each grade would have about four homeroom classes, Dispensa said, adding that he already had floor plans that he proposed sharing with New Field's Local School Council.
The fourth-grade students would be able to fit into the building without getting rid of any music or art rooms, Principal Carlos Patiño said.
Dispensa said he predicted nearly all of the third-graders would stay at New Field if given the opportunity to remain another year.
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