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Marisol Rodriguez/Medill

John Symth Elementary may be the destintion of pupils leaving Gladstone. 

Proposed school closings resisted

by Marisol Rodriguez
Jan 24, 2008


Marisol Rodriguez/Medill

The doors of William E. Gladstone Elementary School could be closing  for good.

Rachel Sarauw, sixth grade teacher at Gladstone Elementary School , was shocked when she learned her school had been recommended to be closed by Chicago Public Schools.

“They [Chicago Public Schools] are taking them out of an environment where they were successful and putting them into an environment where they won’t be as successful…that’s just like you’re trying to set them up to fail,” Sarauw said in a  interview Thursday.

Gladstone,  1231 S. Damen Avenue, is one of the 11 schools that CPS targeted  last week because of  under-enrollment. Some will be closed, like Gladstone, some will be phased out, and some will be consolidated.

At January’s Parent Advisory Council meeting on Thursday, Gladstone parents were already organizing for the February 14th board meeting where they will have the opportunity to express their grievances.

PAC president Sharice Thomas connected the school’s proposed closing to its real estate value. “They want this school because they want this land,” she said to parents at the meeting.

Katrina Allen, a parent of two Gladstone third graders, agreed with Thomas. Allen is an employee of the University of Illinois Medical Center and cited Gladstone’s land value because of its location in the Illinois Medical District.

Gladstone has 308 students, with an average of 22 students per class in grades K through 8th, according to the 2007 Illinois School Report Card.

If Gladstone is closed, its student will be moved to John M. Symth and Plamondon Elementary Schools.

Bria Williams, 10, a fifth grader at Symth said she thought it would be “cool” to have new students. “It’s good for our school because more different ethnic groups will come here,” Williams said.

Symth has an African-American student population of 98.7 percent, while Gladstone is 68.3 percent African-American and 26.4 percent Hispanic, according to the respective school’s report card.

Mona Davis, a parent of Symth Kindergarden student Mariana,  learned about CPS’s plan to close schools from television news. “It’s sad…they have already closed too many school,” Davis said.

Davis said Symth is already overcrowded. She plans to move her daughter to a Learn Elementary Charter School due to the overcrowding.

Students at Gladstone were upset when they heard that their school might be closed, according to Debbie Hornof, a sixth grade teacher who has been teaching at Gladstone for 15 years.

Hornof said that students in the third grade wrote letters to the CPS board expressing frustration over the recent news. Hornof said in one letter a child wrote, “This is my family. Why are you doing this to me?”