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O'Shea Drops Controversial Plan To Merge Kellogg And Sutherland Schools

By Howard Ludwig | October 10, 2016 6:32pm | Updated on October 10, 2016 7:59pm
 A proposal to merge Kellogg and Sutherland elementary schools in Beverly has been abandoned by 19th Ward Ald. Matt O'Shea.
A proposal to merge Kellogg and Sutherland elementary schools in Beverly has been abandoned by 19th Ward Ald. Matt O'Shea.
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DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

BEVERLY — A controversial plan to merge Kellogg and Sutherland elementary schools in Beverly has been dropped by 19th Ward Ald. Matt O'Shea.

O'Shea pointed to the need for "strong community support" for any such proposal. Thus, he abandoned the merger due to negative feedback from parents at both schools, according to an email O'Shea sent to constituents late Monday.

"Declining enrollment remains a serious concern, and one I remain committed to addressing. Moving forward, I will work with the Local School Councils at both schools on possible remedies," O'Shea said in his email.

Indeed, O'Shea pointed to declining enrollment from families living within the neighborhood boundaries of both Kellogg and Sutherland as the reason for the merger. The proposal also aimed to resolve overcrowding issues at Mount Greenwood Elementary School.

To do so, the Southwest Side alderman wanted the combined school to operate out of Sutherland's campus at 10015 S. Leavitt St. Then, the Keller Regional Gifted Center in Mount Greenwood would move to the North Beverly campus Kellogg would have left behind.

Mount Greenwood School would then take over Keller's facilities just 3½ blocks away at 3020 W. 108th St. Thus, the overcrowded school at 10841 S. Homan Ave. would have more room to breathe with a dual campus.

O'Shea said the shift would also free up funding for Esmond Elementary School in Morgan Park. This often-overlooked school at 1865 W. Montvale Ave. suffers from crumbling facilities that desperately need to be replaced, he said.

Although dropping the most contentious aspect of his plan, O'Shea stood by his original idea, saying in the email that he still believes, "this proposal makes the best use of our limited resources and would significantly improve educational options for all 19th Ward children."

Emily Lambert is on the LSC at Kellogg and was a consistent voice of opposition to the proposed merger. She reacted to the news Monday while working with the garden club at the school at 9241 S. Leavitt St.

"I am thrilled and relieved!" Lambert said. "Great things are happening at Kellogg, and I look forward to working with the alderman to get the word out. I hope anyone intrigued by Kellogg will come visit."

Sheila Maloney has first- and third-grade students at Sutherland. She said she was satisfied Monday evening, and she hopes O'Shea brings more voices to the table as he looks for solutions.

"For the first time since this proposal has come out, I believe that [O'Shea] is listening," Maloney said.

Maloney remained concerned about the overcrowding at Mount Greenwood and the conditions at Esmond. And she hoped Monday's announcement isn't viewed in terms of one side winning out over another, she said.

"We hope that going forward there will be a lot more community-based solutions," she said.

O'Shea said his focus now will shift away from a comprehensive plan to finding individual solutions for Mount Greenwood, Esmond, Kellogg and Sutherland.

Margot Burke Holland is the executive director of the Beverly Area Planning Association. She gave O'Shea credit for attempting to solve several problems with one plan. Holland also said she and others remain concerned by what is happening at Sutherland, which recently saw its CPS rating drop.

"Hopefully, we can come together as a community to continue to discuss options that address the issues of overcrowding, capital improvements and declining enrollment," she said.

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