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Gym use confuses Keller parents

Parents speak out ask questions during Keller Gifted School Local School Council meeting hosted 19th Ward office Alderman Matt O'SheMonday

Parents speak out and ask questions during a Keller Gifted School Local School Council meeting hosted at the 19th Ward office of Alderman Matt O'Shea Monday, October 22, 2012. Discussed were concerns about the principal's refusal to keep the school open past 4:15 pm to allow sports teams to practice twice a week, or for the LSC to meet at the school. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 24, 2012 6:25AM

-A group of South Side parents gathered Monday night with one question: Why can’t we use our own school gym for basketball and volleyball practice?

Sports teams had used the gymnasium at the Keller Regional Gifted Center — a Chicago Public School located at 3020 W. 108th St. — for years under the school’s previous principal, LaTanya McDade.

But under the discretion of the school’s new principal, Dr. Delena Little, the gym must shutter at 4:15 p.m. — forcing sports teams to rent a gym from a local church for about $25 an hour.

Parents have not been happy and seemed even more unhappy and confused Monday night at a CPS proposal for students to return to the gym by leasing the space for a fee.

“That is our gym. That is our children’s school. We should not have to rent it back from CPS . . . that sounds like a scam,” said one parent to the crowd of about 50 people.

One main issue is having a certified administrator on hand while the gym is in use and finding the money and staff to pay for it.

But there was confusion among parents about the CPS rule and whether an administrator being on call would suffice at the selective enrollment school. Little did not attend the Local School Council meeting that was held at 19th ward Ald. Matt O’Shea’s office.

Another issue is that the Keller Athletic Association, which oversees sports at the school, is viewed by the CPS as an outside entity.

Parents and LSC board members promised to seek a further compromise with Little.

When asked earlier Monday what she thought of some parents’ criticism that she was not willing to stay at the elementary school past 4:15 p.m. to oversee the gymnasium, she responded, “That’s not it at all. I’m a 24-7 employee. That’s not even something to respond to.”

Liability issues and having an “appropriately qualified individual” on site at sporting events are at the heart of the new lease agreement, said CPS spokesman Robyn Ziegler, who suggested Little is handling the issues more formally than her predecessor.

“The bottom line is they will be able to hold their basketball games and practices at the gym. That is the goal for everyone,” Ziegler said.

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