CPS Offers Deal to Protesting Parents

In proposal, Whittier Elementary field house won't be razed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCChicago.com

    Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman and a Chicago alderman late Monday afternoon offered a resolution to parents who'd taken a weeks-old protest from a Pilsen field house to the school district's Loop offices.

    The parents have been protesting the planned demolition of a field house adjacent to the Whittier Elementary SchoolThey want it turned into a library.  The district has said the old building is structually unsafe and needs to be razed.

    Nearly a month after the sit-in began, Huberman offered a compromise:

    "CPS will create and staff a library inside the Whittier school building.  This makes it much easier for students to access the libary during the school day as part of their studies," he said.

    Huberman said he's like to offer the field house to a community group for a $1/year lease with hope that they'll correct the building's issues and turn it into a community center.

    Ald. Daniel Solis, whose ward encompasses Whittier Elementary, offered a Tax Incremental Funding package in order to make the deal happen. 

    "The most important issue to me is the safety of the students, the parents and the community in whatever facility comes up being as a resolution," he said.

    The offer comes after angry parents camped out Sunday night outside the CPS offices, at 125 South Clark Street, in advance of a Monday morning picketing event.

    They'd hoped to have a meeting with Huberman and discuss with him their plans for a library and community center they'd development last week but were told that he wasn't available.

    The roughly 50 parents protested, holding signs critical of Huberman's leadership.

    "Huberman, before you leave, do you want to be our Superman or run like a cowardly lion?" one sign read, referencing a story saying Huberman was looking for another job before the Daley administration leaves City Hall.

    About 20 of the parents then went to City Hall to gain an audience with Mayor Richard Daley, but he wasn't available either.  He'd canceled all public appearances Monday to spend time with his wife, who was hospitalized over the weekend with pain in her legs.

    It was unknown early Monday evening how parents were reacting to CPS's offer.