OLD TOWN — Having lost its principal at the end of the school year, Manierre Elementary is now slated to lose three teachers, making it the hardest hit school in Lincoln Park or Old Town by districtwide cuts announced this week.
Alcott Elementary in Lincoln Park, which lost two teachers, was the only other school in the area to lose multiple teachers. Even Lincoln Park High School, vastly larger in scale, lost just one teacher and one support employee in cuts announced this week by Chicago Public Schools.
It's a triple whammy for Manierre, 1420 N. Hudson Ave., which also faces a 6 percent budget cut in the coming school year. Nearby Jenner faced a 12 percent budget cut as it readies for a merger with Ogden, but Jenner lost only a support employee in this week's cuts.
CPS said the budget cuts were due to projected enrollment loss and program changes. Districtwide, the expected enrollment for the upcoming school year is 353,014, down from last year's 360,676. Jenner was projected to lose 16 students from last year's 400 to this year's 384, down 4 percent. Manierre was projected to lose 12 student, or just over 4 percent of its enrollment, from last year's 281 to this year's 269.
Principal Derrick Orr was credited with both saving Manierre from closure four years ago and turning the school around to bring it to the verge of full compliance with CPS standards going into the coming school year. Yet he was driven from the post in June only weeks before the end of the term over residency issues.
Only days before he was forced to resign, Orr spoke of trying to keep Manierre open over the summer to give his students a sanctuary, as 99 percent of the student body belongs to low-income families. Two 12-year-old boys — one a Manierre student, the other a Jenner student — were shot a block from Manierre in April during spring break.
"Many of them are afraid of the summer months that are approaching quickly," Orr said in June. "They only feel safe at home or in school. After school and summer months are unstructured and extremely violent. We plan to open the school for board games, gym and lunch to help the students stay off the streets this summer."
CPS, however, did not follow through on that, and did not even include Manierre in a summer lunch program announced later in June.
With less than a month before the start of the fall term, CPS has not named a replacement for Orr.
Other area schools were relatively unscathed by staff cuts. LaSalle Language Academy in the Old Town Triangle lost a support employee, and Franklin Fine Arts Center in Old Town lost two. Lincoln Elementary and Skinner North Classical were untouched.