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Parents give CPS an earful about school consolidation proposals

Chicago's Public school system is getting an earful from parents about its proposal to close some schools.

The district is looking to close or combine eight schools it says are under-enrolled. It has been holding community meetings like the one Friday at the Northwest Side's Avondale Elementary, which may be folded into Logandale Middle School, right next door.

Simple enough, says Jimm Dispensa, the district's director of demographics.

"It really confuses why we haven't been able to resolve this earlier," Dispensa told scores of parents and community members Friday morning. "We have one over-crowded school 50 feet away from an under-utilized school."

But some parents had questions about what would happen to faculty and staff members at both schools, and whether the combined facility would have enough resources to accomodate all of their children.

Others, such as Leticia Barrera with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, said CPS didn't give parents enough warning. The district's request for community feedback is too little, too late, she said.

"Don't play with us, and don't lie to us!" Barrera said. "They made the proposal, they announced it in the [school] newsletter, they send letters, and now they are here listening to us? We are wasting our time!"

But CPS officials maintain the consolidations and closures are not a done deal until the Board of Education approves them. One school on the original list has already been removed, said Jose Alvarez, who works with District CEO Terry Mazany.

The district says it's unclear how many teachers - if any - would lose their jobs. The Board of Education could consider the proposal at its April 27 meeting.

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