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Public Comments to the Senate Education Committee Regarding SB1571

Public Comments to the Senate Education Committee Regarding SB1571

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Published by valeriefleonard
The Lawndale Alliance's Public Comments to the Senate Education Committee Regarding SB1571. The Lawndale Alliance supports this legislation, with the following recommendations to strengthen it.
The Lawndale Alliance's Public Comments to the Senate Education Committee Regarding SB1571. The Lawndale Alliance supports this legislation, with the following recommendations to strengthen it.

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Published by: valeriefleonard on Mar 19, 2013
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05/14/2014

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Public Comments on SB1571March 19, 2013
My name is Valerie Leonard, the Co-Founder of the Lawndale Alliance. We are a groupof residents who have come together to address issues of concern to the community, includingeducation, TIF reform and mortgage foreclosure. We are providing written testimony in supportof SB1571 and to make recommendations for strengthening this legislation.SB1571 calls for a moratorium on school closings, consolidations, and phase-outs in theschool district in the 2013-2014 school year. It also provides that any of these actions that aresubsequently appropriate must be carried out no sooner than the end of the 2014-2015 Schoolyear. We agree in principle, that a moratorium is appropriate at this time. We respectfullyrequest that the moratorium be put into effect immediately, and that no school actions such as theones listed above be carried out until CPS has completed its master facilities planning process. ItWe also request that, once such actions take place, that another 5 year moratorium be instituted, pursuant to the request Barbara Byrd Bennett made during her last appearance before you in November 2012. At the time, she indicated a desire to "right size" the district by closing up to193 schools, in an effort to get the pain over with so children can focus on academics. She saidthe 5 year moratorium on school closures would help.Currently, Chicago Public Schools has indicated that they will be closing anywhere from80-129 public schools. This action could reduce the number of schools by up to 18% when totalCPS enrollment between 2000 and 2010 has decreased by 5% Closing 129 schools wouldrepresent $1 billion in disinvestment of school assets citywide. The African Americancommunity would be disproportionately impacted, as 88% of the schools targeted for closure arein African American neighborhoods, while African American children comprise 41% of the CPSstudent population.Drilling closer to home, the North Lawndale community will be more adversely impactedthan any community in Chicago. We will lose 13 of our 24 schools (54%) for a total capitaldisinvestment of $200 million to our local economy, and a disinvestment of up to $52 million per year in school operating funds in our community. As it stands, the North Lawndale communityis one of the most impoverished communities in the city, with a median income of $18,000 andunemployment rate of 17%--before the recession of 2007. Closing 13 school buildings andleaving them empty would cause a host of problems, including exacerbated blight conditions;reduced property values; increased student mobility rates; increased dropout rates; increasedvandalism and violence and interrupted student learning. The most upwardly mobile residents

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