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Beloved School Clerk, Several Teachers Cut At Far North Side Schools

By Linze Rice | October 6, 2016 7:56am
 Some teachers and staff from Jordan, Swift, Goudy and Field Elementary Schools in Edgewater and Rogers Park have been let go amid budget cuts from Chicago Public Schools.
Some teachers and staff from Jordan, Swift, Goudy and Field Elementary Schools in Edgewater and Rogers Park have been let go amid budget cuts from Chicago Public Schools.
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DNAinfo/Erica Demarest

EDGEWATER — The latest round of cuts coming from Chicago Public Schools means the loss of at least four teachers and a beloved school clerk at schools in Rogers Park and Edgewater. 

CPS data shows two teachers from Jordan Elementary School in Rogers Park and two teachers from Goudy Elementary School at the border of Uptown and Edgewater were told Monday their positions had been cut.

Eugene Field Elementary School in Rogers Park, which lost its fourth-grade class at the start of the school year to feeder school New Field Elementary, also lost a number of teachers, although CPS would not specify how many or if any support staff was affected. 

At Swift Elementary in Edgewater, Cathy Camacho, a school clerk who worked in the building for nine years, was let go. 

Districtwide, 134 teachers and 103 support staff were given the pink slip.

Camacho served an essential function beyond her desk duties, often serving as "a liaison between families and the school," said Briellen Griffin, vice president of Swift's Local School Council.

"She provides the triage services and communication that are required in a school as diverse as ours," Griffin said. "She knows the kids and their families and goes out of her way to make sure everyone is successful here at Swift." 

Tim Lacy, the chair of Swift's LSC, said that although Camacho didn't work at the school in a teaching capacity, she was a pillar that held together the main office, adding that her departure leaves the elementary school with a "bare bones administrative staff."

"The troubling thing about the loss of [Camacho] is that she helped with enrollments," Lacy said. "She helped process new and returning students, not just in terms of paperwork but also by helping them get comfortable with Swift and its resources."

Lacy said in order to keep other teachers' jobs off the chopping block, his school had to drain all its reserve budgets, which included funding for school supplies and after school programs.

For Swift and other neighborhood schools in the same boat, Lacy said the budget slashing was "extremely hurtful and on the brink of devastating."

Going forward, "every new dollar cut" would "result in more staff losses and hurt classrooms directly," he added.

The job losses within CPS were prompted by a 3.5 percent drop in district enrollment between the 2015-16 school year and the 2016-17 school year.

During the last 10 years, enrollment has fallen 6.8 percent at public schools in Chicago, with half of that drop coming since September 2015, according to CPS enrollment data.

"Big picture, the constant pressure on funding, and the bad news cycles it creates, only perpetuates the loss of families and students in the district," Lacy said. "Without a robust public school system, no one is representing our under-resourced and at-risk students. ... A neighborhood public school is a core institution in relation to the common good."

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