The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Keller Parents Concerned Over What Might Come Of 19th Ward School Proposal

By Howard Ludwig | October 14, 2016 9:58am | Updated on October 17, 2016 6:08am
 Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) proposed moving the Keller Regional Gifted Center from Mount Greenwood to North Beverly. The proposal has since been rescinded, but Keller parents remain concerned that their school might move.
Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) proposed moving the Keller Regional Gifted Center from Mount Greenwood to North Beverly. The proposal has since been rescinded, but Keller parents remain concerned that their school might move.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

MOUNT GREENWOOD — The Keller Regional Gifted Center was never mentioned directly in an email by Ald. Matt O'Shea (19th) when he abandoned his controversial school overhaul plan.

And that's what's concerning parents of students at the magnet school at 3020 W. 108th St. in Mount Greenwood, said Nora Barr, a Beverly resident with a fourth-grader at Keller.

Keller was poised to serve as a relief valve for overcrowding at nearby Mount Greenwood Elementary School under the proposal authored by O'Shea. In turn, Keller would have moved to the North Beverly campus of Kate S. Kellogg School.

Kellogg was set to merge with Sutherland Elementary School under the plan that O'Shea stepped away from Oct. 10. His proposal would also have directed money to Esmond Elementary School in Morgan Park, which most likely needs a new building after going without any considerable investment since the early 1970s.

Kellogg and Sutherland parents took center stage in the opposing O'Shea's plan. But Keller parents also voiced concerns. Most worried that the move would disrupt the student body for little or no gain.

Several Keller parents participated in a "Unity Walk" meant to illustrate the neighborhood's overall aversion to O'Shea's plan. And on Oct. 6, the Local School Council issued a formal statement declaring that the proposed move to Kellogg was "not in the best interest of Keller."

"What seems to be the common feeling among parents is we just want to stay where we are," Barr said Thursday.

The Keller Regional Gifted Center at 3020 W. 108th St. in Mount Greenwood was being considered at a way to alleviate overcrowding at nearby Mount Greenwood Elementary School. The plan has since been scrapped, but parents are concerned that calls to move might resurface. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]

O'Shea attended at least five public meetings after announcing his plan Sept. 6. His office also served as a clearinghouse for emails written by residents with alternative ideas for solving the issues of overcrowding, under-enrollment and disinvestment among 19th Ward schools.

All of that information has been turned over to Chicago Public Schools, and the Southwest Side alderman is eager to see the recommendations of top CPS administrators. He's hopes they'll either find merit in some of these ideas presented by residents or offer new solutions.

"I have not heard back from CPS," O'Shea said. "I gave them multiple, multiple things go look at."

One idea drawing concern among Keller parents is a possible partnership between Esmond and Keller that would create a combined school located at Esmond's campus at 1865 W. Montvale Ave. in Morgan Park.

This idea was presented in a public form and was not offered up by a Keller parent, Barr said. However, it has since gained traction after being mentioned in a Chicago Tribune article laying out possible alternatives to O'Shea's plan, Barr said.

O'Shea didn't outright disavow this idea or any others Thursday. He simply reiterated that all options are on the table since his plan has been shelved. But the alderman did point to his statements at prior community forums where he said his goal, "would be to keep Keller in the neighborhood."

But that's not enough for Barr and other parents who have already begun discussing strategies aimed at keeping Keller in its current home. They've begun writing letters to O'Shea and others opposing any move.

"We are fighting what we believe is writing on the wall, but there is no writing on the wall just yet to see," Barr said.

Keller LSC Chairman Chad Syverson previously said the magnet school is always a candidate to move since it draws students from throughout the city. This creates an overall uneasiness among parents, particularly since a similar effort was presented and defeated as recently as 2010.

Syverson pointed Thursday back to the LSC's previous statement on O'Shea's plan. Besides the instability caused by moving, the statement also questions whether Keller's facilities could adequately support the projected growth at Mount Greenwood Elementary.

Keller's statement further called for a task force to investigate the issues facing 19th Ward schools and made a point of saying that the continued threats of moving create, "a feeling of never 'owning' our space."

"Whatever the deal is, I don't think anything fundamentally changes about our views," Syverson said.

Meredith McGuffage of Beverly sends her two sons to Keller. She said the students and families of the school are invested in Mount Greenwood and some have even moved into the 19th Ward to be closer to the campus.

"To relocate Keller would be a great disruption to the students and their families," she said.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.