CPS released its "schools still on the table for possible closure" list a few weeks ago. There are no schools in the massively overcrowded O'Hare network on it. But that hasn't seemed to stop the conjecture about what is going to happen to the only two under-performing, under-utilized schools within the network. Last week, GIPNA circulated its proposal to the Board of Education. My reaction to late-in-the-game GIPNA proposals has hit nerves in the past, and I anticipate that this one will as well.
At today's O'Hare network community meeting, representatives from 13 schools spoke in 6-minute segments about the challenges faced by their communities. Three schools did not speak about overcrowding. Murphy school was one of them. The other two were Roosevelt H.S. and Disney II.
Murphy's LSC chair, Roberta Salas, and other representatives focused their comments on how Disney II is going to take over "their" neighborhood school, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, and how the community will feel the loss of this highly prized neighborhood jewel.
As both a current Disney II parent and Independence Park resident, I find this stance presumptuous and misleading. First, as I noted later, CPS has not yet identified a facility for the expansion of Disney II, which the board approved in December. This lack fuels conjecture and negative sentiment. Decisions should not be made based on rumors. Second, it's misleading for Murphy community to act like TMMS is their neighborhood school.
Indeed, as Paul Flaherty, TMMS principal (who was in the audience, but did not make public comment) told me after the meeting, TMMS has four feeder schools; Murphy began retaining its 7th and 8th graders in 2010, so very few go on to TMMS. The vast majority of TMMS students come in on a bus, from Falconer, Henry, Barry, and Volta. When speaking candidly of his students' challenges, Mr. Flaherty told me that although I live within two blocks of the building, I am ineligible to serve on its (anemic) LSC because I do not live in the school's community. When I looked up the attendance boundaries for TMMS on the CPS site, the map overlays do not correspond in any way to the GIPNA boundary.
Roosevelt High School was the third school in the O'Hare network not facing overcrowding. A teacher, Tim Meegan, spoke. He urged parents concerned about high school to consider Roosevelt, and spoke for 6+ minutes about the scourge of charters and the importance of public education, citing study after study. I had no idea that the investors in charter school organizations enjoy a 39 percent tax credit, for example.