ROGERS PARK — School ratings released by Chicago Public Schools last week have given Ald. Joe Moore (49th) reason to back off his proposal to close one school and merge it with another while clearing the way for a West Ridge school to move into an empty neighborhood school building, he said.
Moore had earlier told community members of his idea to close Eugene Field Elementary School and merge its remaining students with Kilmer Elementary School. Decatur Classical School, a top-performing but overcrowded selective-enrollment school in West Ridge would have moved into the former Field building.
However, CPS ratings show that Field students would have been folded into the lower-performing Kilmer, according to CPS standards. Field scored a Level 1 rating, while Kilmer was rated one point below at Level 2+.
"In light of Field School’s new Level 1 rating, I have decided to place on a temporary hold my proposal to merge Field and Kilmer schools," Moore wrote in an email to residents Friday. "I still believe we need to plan for the future and address the issues posed by declining enrollment and under-utilization in our local schools. I look forward to continuing those planning discussions."
Moore's pause on the plan came as a "surprise" but wasn't completely unexpected, said Annie Gill-Bloyer, a parent and Local School Council chair at New Field Elementary.
She said she met with Network 2 Chief Eduardo Cesario last week, who told her to expect Field would rate higher than Kilmer and that state law prohibited merging schools to combine into a school with a lower rating, according to Gill-Bloyer.
Gill-Bloyer and other parents had offered an alternate plan that would combine Eugene Field and New Field Elementary Schools as a K-8 school with one administration, but remain in each of the schools' current buildings.
Her group hasn't had a chance yet to reconvene and discuss how, when or if they may move forward on their proposal to "reunite the Fields," steps Gill-Bloyer said are likely still necessary to ensure the overall, long term success of both schools.
"It was definitely a win on not closing Eugene Field," Gill-Bloyer said. "But not a full win, which is uniting both Eugene Field and New Field ... which is what we believe is really the better model for sustainability between the schools."
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