CPS Backs Off on More School Consolidations

School officials back down on plans after opponents cite safety concerns

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images / Joe Corrigan/Stringer

    Chicago Public Schools officials on Monday backed away from a plan to merge two elementary schools.

    Jacob Beidler Elementary and Willa Cather Elementary will remain as they are. A proposal unveiled last month had the schools folding into Cather to make room for a charter high school.

    Mazany: School Consolidation "Imperative"

    [CHI] Mazany: School Consolidation "Imperative"
    Interim Chicago Public Schools chief Terry Mazany on Wednesday proposed a plan that would fold eight schools into six others. (Published Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011)

    But the decision to back off on the proposal was the second time in less than a week that CPS officials altered the plans, which were intended to help the cash-strapped system deal more efficiently with under-used school buildings.

    Both withdrawn plans involved schools in East Garfield Park, and in both cases, opponents cited safety concerns, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

    Consolidating Beidler with Cather would put kids in harm's way by forcing them to cross gang lines, opponents to the plan said.

    "We do not want another Derrion Albert killing," said the Rev. Paul Jakes of the New Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church at a meeting last month, referring to the notorious beating of a Fenger High School student.

    "We will not stand for it in East Garfield Park. We will not stand for this disrespect to our concerns," he said.

    The Chicago Tribune last month posted a breakdown of the proposed consolidations, aimed at closing the district's gaping budget hole. 

    "The proposed school actions would provide better and more complete educational environments for students," said interim schools chief Terry Mazany at the time .

    Still alive are plans to consolidate Schneider into Jahn, Andersen into LaSalle II, Carpenter into Talcott, Avondale into Logandale, and three small schools at the old Bowen High School campus into a fourth school there -- New Millennium.

    The final list of proposed school actions to the board is expected at an April 27 meeting.