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Bronzeville School Summit Planned

In recent years Bronzeville has seen 14 neighborhood schools closed and 15 new schools opened — with longtime residents wondering if the changes were intended to accommodate newer, higher-income residents, to their own exclusion.

For months the education committee of the Grand Boulevard Federation has been meeting with disparate elements of the community to discuss educational goals for Bronzeville.

Over 200 people including local principals, parents, students, community leaders, and representatives of charter and contract schools have participated in discussion groups, formulating a series of educational visions and recommendations.

On Saturday, November 19, the group will report back to the community, and breakout groups will discuss prioritizing recommendations.

GBF had previously worked with parents and participated in planning processes at several closed schools but was dissatisfied with the level of community involvement, said education organizer Andrea Lee.

The education committee’s discussions produced “really telling stories from educators and parents about what’s happening in the schools,” she said. Educators said the greatest need was for additional mental health services, followed by dental and eye-care services, so students “can come to school prepared to learn,” she said.

The community’s priority is focusing on existing schools to help them plan for the future and deal with extraordinary challenges, including large numbers of low-income students and schools where the number of special education students far exceeds CPS guidelines.

Lee said newer residents seem to be taking a “wait-and-see attitude” about whether to send their children to public schools; new charter and contract schools in the area seem to be drawing largely from longtime residents who are “more knowledgeable and savvy,” in additional to recruiting from outside the neighborhood.

One goal of the community school planning process is to unify various sectors of the community around a common set of goals, she said.

The Bronzeville Education Town Hall Meeting takes place Saturday, November 19, 2005, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the DuSable High School Campus, 4934 S. Wabash.

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Category: Bronzeville, CPS, school closings, school facilities

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