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Parents argue that Owens school closing makes no sense

Updated: May 10, 2013 6:43AM

What sense does it make, supporters of Jesse Owens Community Academy argued boisterously Monday night, to turn Owens into a K-3 branch of Samuel Gompers?

Leaving both buildings open won’t save money, since the $8 million in renovations needed to the Owens building will still have to happen, and both Owens and Gompers not only have CPS’ lowest rating but also are on academic probation, parent Michelle Stagger told a panel of Chicago Public Schools employees at a hearing on proposed school closings.

How can one principal manage both buildings, half a block away, Stagger asked, adding “she can’t be in two places at once.”

Stagger, mother of an Owens first-grader, wants Owens to stay open. Dozens of other parents agreed at the hearing at Harlan H.S. on the Far South Side.

Owens is one of 54 schools proposed to be closed by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in June in an effort to “right size” a district that has more space than children. CPS has said all displaced children will end up in stronger schools, including Gompers which it rates higher than Owens according to its own performance policy.

Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz sat through the raucous two hours that had parents shouting and refusing to wrap up after their allotted two minutes. Handwritten notes under his arm, Ruiz declined afterwards to comment on the Owens situation, saying he was still listening to what folks had to say.

The series of hearings continues through early May. The Board of Education is expected to vote on the closings later that month.

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