Community Unites to Save Ravenswood-Ridge Schools
Representatives from Trumbull Elementary praised the school's special education program, while speakers from other schools said the closures would pose a safety risk for students commuting through rough neighborhoods.
Parents, students and teachers from four Chicago Public Schools targeted for possible closure presented a united front Saturday during a meeting at Truman College for the Ravenswood-Ridge network of schools.
Chants of “don’t close any schools” echoed through the gym as community members pleaded with CPS officials to preserve the schools.
The four elementary schools—Brennemann, Trumbull, Stewart and Stockton—were named Wednesday on CPS’ list of 129 schools that it could shutter due to low enrollment.
Strategy Officer Adam Anderson told the animated audience that feedback from the first round of meetings helped determine the criteria for schools that remain vulnerable. Saturday’s meeting, he said, was a continuation of that exchange.
“I know these conversations are difficult,” he said. “But every person in this room believes every student can and should get a good education.
A large delegation from Trumbull highlighted the school’s special education program. Special needs students account for 37 percent of the population, Principal Venus Shannon said.
“Every time you move a special education student, research shows they lose a year,” she said. “We cannot have that.” The school also serves as a hub for evaluating special needs students from other CPS schools, she said.
A parent of a special needs student who attends Trumbull said that through attending the school, her daughter has accomplished things she never thought she would be able to.
“We have to think children first, always children first,” she said. “Keep Trumbull open—all schools open.”
Trumbull enrolls 389 students, or 54 percent of its capacity. CPS estimates it would cost about $16.2 million to maintain and update the school.
Representatives from other schools said that forcing their students to go elsewhere would put them at risk in neighborhoods with significant gang activity.
“For me and other students, it’s a safe walk and we can get to school without any fear,” said a high school student who finished eighth grade at Stewart last year.
Stewart science teacher Jen Lewin echoed the student’s fears, noting that keeping the schools open would help preserve a sense of stability and safety for students who often have tumultuous home lives.
Officials did not say where students would enroll if any of the four schools close.
CPS originally identified 15 Ravenswood-Ridge schools as “underutilized.” The district removed schools from the list if they met any one of nine criteria. The four schools discussed Saturday did not meet any of those criteria, which are:
- The school is a high school.
- The school is a high performing, Level 1 school.
- The school is in the process of adding grades and is expected to become efficient.
- The school had more than 600 students enrolled on the 20th day of school year 2012-13.
- The school has a utilization rate of 70 percent or higher.
- The school has recently experienced a significant school action—defined as a school that has been a designated welcoming school in the last three years or was a part of a co-location approved last year that went into effect this year.
- The school is “on the rise,” meaning either:
a. The school is Level 2 and has gained enrollment over the last three years OR
b. The school meets ALL of the following:
i. More than 300 students enrolled on the 20th day of school year 2012-13.
ii. Same or higher performance level for school year 2011-12 as school year 2010-11.
iii. ISAT composite meets/exceeds trend value that indicates increase in student proficiency.
iv. Students are performing at or above their peers in reading or math for each of the last three years.
- The school is isolated from nearby neighborhood elementary schools by more than a mile.
- The school is surrounded by schools that are at or near capacity and do not have space to welcome students.
Source: Chicago Public Schools