Parents Build Library in Building Slated for Demo

Sit-in at Whittier Elementary has lasted more than two weeks.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCChicago.com

    The more than two-week battle between parents and Chicago Public Schools over the fate of the Whittier Elementary School field house has entered a new chapter.

    With about 1,000 donated books, new decorations and a fresh coat of paint to foster a comfortable learning environment, parents on Thursday turned the building into a new library.

    "We can't wait on CPS. While CPS is twiddling their thumbs and being a stalemate and a spoiled brat, our children need these resources, so we figured we can do what CPS has been denying our children. We did it for ourselves," said parent Gema Gaete.

    CPS argues their experts found the field house structurally unsafe and needed to be demolished, adding that the cost to rebuild it as a library would range from $5 million to $20 million. The district also said that roughly $11 million worth of improvements have been made to the interior of the main school building, located at 1900 W. 23rd St.

    "(With) the budgetary constraints we are under, nothing is going to happen," CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said earlier this month. "That building has to come down."

    Parents disagree.

    "We have had a contractor, a private contractor already assess the building and inspect the building. And they said the only problem here is the roof," said parent Lisa Angonese.

    Since earlier this month, people have been staffing the field house around the clock in protest of the pending demolition. Organizers said there's been no progress with CPS and said they plan to continue their sit-in until the agency listens.

    "What we're doing is fighting for the inner-city kids and the rights they have in order to read," said Angonese.