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Brighton Park parents: new school should serve neighborhood

Brighton Park parents are asking that a new school now under construction be open to neighborhood students in order to relieve overcrowding in area schools – and they’re complaining of “deception” by local charter school operator UNO, which wants the building.

Parents will march from Shields Elementary School, 4250 S. Rockwell, at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 30, and hold a press conference at the site of the new school, 48th and Rockwell, at 9:30.

With 1,849 students, Shields is one of the most overcrowded schools in CPS, according to parent leaders with Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.

Many parents say UNO organizers collecting signatures on a petition to give the new school to UNO misled them about its purpose, with the petition’s text often not available or available only in English, said Patrick Brosnan of BPNC.  Parents will discuss this at the press conference, he said.

Parents leaders with BPNC have pushed for over five years for a new school in the neighborhood to relieve overcrowding.  A charter school that takes students citywide will not help, they say.

Shields is one of four schools where BPNC has partnered to create Full-Service Community Schools, offering after-school tutoring, art and drama, along with GED and ESL for parents and leadership development for students and parents.  The program includes counseling, mental health services, and support for at-risk students.

The approach has led to steadily improving achievement levels, Brosnan said.  With 97 percent low-income and 29 percent English-learning students, Shields outperforms CPS averages on reading, math, and science.

CPS officials and several elected officials are scheduled to attend a public meeting on the new school on Thursday, May 3, at Shields.

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Category: CPS, school facilities, Southwest Side

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