Beverly parents and community members packed an auditorium Monday night to tell 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea that they do not like his plan to merge two neighborhood schools.
The plan would combine Sutherland and Kellogg elementary schools, essentially shutting down Kellogg. It would move Keller Regional Gifted into Kellogg’s building and make Keller’s current building part of Mt. Greenwood Elementary.
Mt. Greenwood is overcrowded, according to CPS’ space utilization standards. Kellogg and Sutherland are efficiently utilized, but O’Shea says they are slated to see a continued downturn in enrollment over the next few years.
Many parents accused O’Shea of targeting the area’s majority black schools for consolidation in an effort to appease schools that serve majority white students. Several pointed out that Cassell, another area school, is only 75 percent utilized, according to CPS standards. Cassell is 70 percent white.
“Why not shift the border?” said Masajji Patrick, a father of six children at Sutherland. “Why is that not an option? If you move that border a quarter or a half (mile) to the south, your problems are solved.”
Patrick also pointed out that Clissold, a school that is 63 percent black, potentially has space for Mt. Greenwood students.
Though O’Shea said he saw some Mt. Greenwood parents in the audience, no one from that elementary school spoke at the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, O’Shea explained that he wanted to give Mt. Greenwood Elementary an existing building rather than use capital money to build an annex. Instead, he wanted to use capital money to fix up Esmond, a school that serves mostly poor black students.
Sarah Karp is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her @sskedreporter or @wbezeducation