Last year the mayor and CPS claimed that closing fifty schools would free up funds to improve education at other schools. At Rogers Park’s Gale Math and Science Academy, the children have been waiting for years for such a moment.
Some 30 languages are spoken at Gale, which serves almost 500 young people and is named for former Chicago Fire Department chief Stephen F. Gale. 18% are special ed students, several coming from nearby assisted living facilities where they manage severe physical challenges. 97% of the school's students come from low or very low income families. Whatever else is happening in these children’s lives, Gale and its staff are there for them.
We tell these children their education is the most important thing in their lives, yet the contrast between what we say and how we treat their school buildings is shameful and indefensible. We have done what we can to support the students at Gale, through mutual aid and community involvement, but community efforts alone cannot undo the damage that CPS is inflicting upon this, and many other elementary schools.
Gale now faces a $310,000 funding cut, mostly due to reduced enrollments. Enrollments have declined in large part because the school facilities are physically dangerous and CPS refuses to repair them.
CPS leadership is intentionally and heinously manipulating the condition of the facilities in a manner which endangers children. Their goal appears to be to drive away enough parents and students to justify closing the school completely.
Gale's management team has been pushing for repairs, in some cases for years. But CPS ignores them. The list of issues includes:
It is time to undo the damage caused by CPS leadership by canceling enrollment-driven funding cuts, and to bring the school up to current CPS standards. A school system that spends 9 million dollars on new furniture for its offices, as CPS did recently, can invest a few hundred thousand dollars in repairs to keep our community’s children safe.