ROGERS PARK — More than 62 percent of 49th Ward voters said they would support a freeze on any "expanding charter schools in the 49th Ward ... through new, larger, or relocated schools," according to Tuesday night's election results.
The question, "Should there be a freeze on expanding charter schools in the 49th Ward of the City of Chicago through new, larger, or relocated schools?" appeared as a non-binding referendum on ballots for Far North Siders.
Of the 17,086 Rogers Park residents who responded, 62.45 percent (or 10,670 people) voted, "Yes."
Over the summer, Network 49, a political organization in Rogers Park, successfully gathered more than 2,600 signatures from residents who supported the question's inclusion on the ballot.
In Albany Park, 33rd Ward voters similarly voiced opposition to charter schools in the neighborhood.
That ballot referendum simply asked: "Shall the Chicago Public Schools, which face a budget deficit, approve the expansion of charter schools?"
Of the 15,269 voters who weighed in on the issue, an overwhelming 9,215 or 60.35 percent said "no"; and 6,054 or 39.65 said "yes," according to results posted by the Board of Election Commissioners.
Charter schools have been a controversial topic in Rogers Park for several years; each of the networks affiliated with UNO charter schools and Chicago Math and Science Academy have been investigated for misuse of funds.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who supported both neighborhood charters UNO and Chicago Math and Science Academy, said earlier that the issue of charters in the neighborhood was relatively "dead" and a formal freeze on them would be "moot," but saw no harm in posing the question to voters.
Rogers Park has five neighborhood Chicago Public Schools, though some parents would like to see the merger of Eugene Field and New Field Elementary Schools.
In 2015, New Field Elementary led the charge in a community-wide push against Noble Charter School taking over the former St. Jerome building as part of the "Say No to Noble" group, which also included support from elementary and high school principals across the North Side.
After a rally and private meeting with Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), Noble representatives agreed to stay out of the neighborhood.
In February, residents learned Truman Middle College, an alternative high school that is part of the Youth Connection Charter School network, was eyeing the vacant St. Jerome across from New Field Elementary on Morse Avenue, though the plan ultimately did not come to fruition.
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