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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Aug 21, 2013

Experts: New Chicago Food Desert Numbers Not As 'Rosy' As Emanuel Says

Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the population of food deserts in Chicago declined 21 percent over the past two years thanks to 15 new grocery stores, additional farmers markets and more produce carts. But those working on the ground to combat food-access issues in Chicago say the new numbers are not as sweet as they appear.

Quick Hit
by Michael Sandler
Mon Aug 19, 2013

TIFs Are for Kids! Logan Square Rally Calls For More School Funding (VIDEO)

Like thousands of other children in Chicago, Nidalis Burgos is preparing to go back to school next week. But this year is different for Burgos: the 15 year-old Lincoln Park High School student doesn’t know any of her teachers.

Budget cuts at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) led to the removal of teachers she’s grown to know, and now Burgos said her class schedule is filled with unfamiliar names. In an attempt to convince Mayor Rahm Emanuel to declare a tax increment financing (TIF) surplus and restore the budget funds, Burgos joined about 200 parents, students, teachers and elected officials for a rally Sunday at Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Aug 19, 2013

Pilsen Community Holds Vigil After CPS Demolishes Whittier Elementary Fieldhouse (VIDEO)

Pilsen community members held a Saturday afternoon vigil outside Whittier Elementary to mourn the loss of the school’s fieldhouse, which was completely demolished earlier that morning due to safety concerns cited by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Community members and parents said CPS gave them no notice before demolition crews showed up Friday night to start tearing down the fieldhouse, known as La Casita, that served as a volunteer-run community center owned by CPS.

A number of protestors spent the night outside the fieldhouse Friday, and 10 people were arrested after they tried to stop the building from being leveled early Saturday morning. Chicago Police News Affairs confirmed on Sunday that nine individuals were charged with criminal trespass and one protestor was charged with criminal damage to property, both of which are misdemeanors.

“I am outraged,” La Casita’s Executive Director Lisa Angonese said at the vigil as bulldozers cleared away the rubble. “This is completely uncalled for. They came in unannounced. They showed us no work permits with no notice. Not even a knock on the door. Not even a phone call.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri Aug 16, 2013

Local School Councils Continue Opposition To CPS Budget Cuts

With just 10 days left until students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district head back to class, a number of local school councils (LSC) across the city have not yet approved their schools’ budget for next year.

“LSCs are elected officials and we have obligations to meet our third party contracts. We have obligations to provide our children with the highest quality education,” said Kate Schott Bolduc, head of the Common Sense Coalition of LSCs For Fair Funding and community representative on the LSC for James G. Blaine Elementary School. “The money allocated to us by CPS doesn’t allow us to do our job.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Aug 14, 2013

CPS Calls For New Charters As Schools Grapple With Deep Budget Cuts

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) opened up its application process Monday for new charter schools that will help alleviate neighborhood school overcrowding and provide every student with “a world class education.”

The call for new charters, slated to open in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, comes after the Chicago Board of Education voted in May to close a record-breaking 50 neighborhood schools, primarily in low-income and minority communities, due to the district’s reported underutilization crisis. In June, 48 elementary schools closed their doors for good.

On top of the recent round of closings, schools have also been dealing with massive budget cuts this summer due to the district’s new per-student budgeting system. More than 3,000 CPS employees have been let go this summer due to school closures, turnarounds and budgetary reasons thus far.

“How can CPS be opening up charter schools that then will attempt to siphon off, and probably will siphon off, students from the public schools who are concerned about the diminishing quality of their education,” asked Pauline Lipman, professor of educational policy studies and director of the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.