Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=156044
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Leor Galil/MEDILL

A proposal to consolidate Mollision school drew complaints from school backers who vowed at a public hearing to fight the proposal.


Mollison school community battles consolidation proposal

by Leor Galil
Feb 09, 2010


Concern over teachers’ jobs, students’ safety and performance issues were the focus of complaints from members of the Irvin C. Mollison Elementary School community, who vowed Monday to fight a proposed consolidation of the school.

“We’re going to sit-in, we’ll call and write people,” said Jeanette Taylor Smith, a parent of two Mollison students, before the public hearing at Chicago Public Schools headquarters. “We will be back down here at CPS until they tell us they are not consolidating the schools. Mollison is here to stay.”

CPS announced last month its proposal to close, turnaround, consolidate and phase out 14 schools. Mollison is one of four schools slated for consolidation for the 2010-2011 academic year.

If the CPS Board of Education approves the plan for Mollison, the school will be merged  with Ida B. Wells Preparatory Elementary School,  which shares space with Phillips High School. Wells would move its students and teachers to Mollison’s building at 4415 S. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Drive. A decision on which teachers are retained and which are let go would not be made until further along in the consolidation process.

On Jan. 28, Chicago Public Schools began hosting public hearings to discuss the prospective changes with each school’s community. Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman will present information gathered at the meetings to the Board of Education.

Mollison students, parents, faculty and community leaders filled the board chambers to argue against consolidation.  Many wore dark blue shirts with “Mollison” emblazoned in white across their chests. A number of the 35 speakers voiced concern about the negative consequences of consolidation including safety issues that might arise when combining students from different neighborhoods in a single school.

“This whole process that they’re going through doesn’t work,” said Rev. Jeffery C. Campbell, co-chair of Mollison’s Local School Council, before the hearing. “We’ve seen that at Fenger, we’ve seen that in the other schools that they’ve tried to do this in, and we’re not going to be the next statistic. We’re tired of our babies dying.”

Robert Runcie, the CPS chief administrative officer, highlighted the reasons for the proposed changes at Mollison during the hearing. Mollison performed below the CPS standard during the past two school years, which made the school eligible for closure.

The Board of Education will announce its decision on school closures during its Feb. 24 meeting.