Parents, teachers, and concerned residents are taking to the streets of the Logan Square neghborhood today to voice their anger with the Chicago Public Schools' plan to consolidate Avondale Elementary and Logandale Middle School. They say the plan will do more harm than good to the children attending those schools.
The issue at hand is whether consolidation of the schools, where officials have done a great deal to boost attendance at underpopulated Logandale, while relieving the problem of overcrowding at Avondale, would really be in the best interest students.
"Consolidation cannot be about money," said Bridget Murphy of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association in a press release. "Consolidating Avondale and Logandale would put the school in the 90th percentile in terms of enrollment. All but one of the other elementary schools in the 90th enrollment percentile are Latino schools -- why would CPS want to force another Latino elementary school into such high enrollment? Do 1,000-plus student schools have better educational outcomes for students?"
Instead of merging the two schools, parents, teachers, and community activists, who say they only learned of the consolidation plan by way of a newspaper article, have drafted a counterproposal that they plan to present to CPS officials tomorrow. The plan calls for a mini-consolidation of sorts by moving Avondale's 5th graders to Logandale, which would net 650 students for the more spacious, Avondale facility. Logandale would have 323 students if the community's proposal were adopted. Their plan also calls for a complementary curriculum for the schools as well as professional development for staffers and shared all-school, community activities.
The CPS plan wouldn't close down one of the school buildings, but would instead turn Avondale and Logandale into one school, which would mean one of the two principals that the schools' highly-engaged parents helped bring in would be forced out. Avondale's gym, art program and lunchroom staff have already been given notice, with only one gym teacher and a single art teacher to remain in their respective posts. Community activists say CPS is yet to give a clear purpose for the consolidation.
"The CPS community relations department has been telling different people, different things,"said Murphy. "The department told Sen. Iris Martinez the proposal was based on saving money; however, they told the community that it was not about money or performance, but about building utilization."
The board of education will make their final decisions on the proposed school consolidations later this week.