Prescott’s LSC held a special meeting earlier this week to better understand a CPS proposal to reduce our school’s enrollment from 450 to 390, and I’m writing today to make sure all Prescott families are informed about this proposal, its potential for negative impact on our community and how the LSC is responding.
Prescott’s current gymnasium provides challenges in ensuring the latest CPS Physical Education Policy is met regarding the minimum number of minutes per week that students must engage in Physical Education. Recognizing this challenge among others, Amy Cortis (LSC Secretary), Jeff Marren (LSC Vice Chair), and Ryan Crosby (LSC Parent Representative) have been creating plans and exploring funding sources for a new gymnasium/auditorium annex for Prescott. This plan includes:
· ADA accessibility to all four floors
· A standard sized gymnasium conducive to sports and PE classes
· A performance and event space that can accommodate sports competitions, drama performances, graduations, and celebrations of learning
· Dedicated classroom space for all specials teachers, such as art and drama
· Sufficient boys and girls bathrooms on all floors
After several meetings with district leaders, Network Chief William Klee presented Prescott with a proposal to install an elevator and a possibility for additional toilet rooms to make our school accessible. But that came along with a recommendation to reduce enrollment from 450 to 390 students.
Reducing enrollment will greatly weaken our school’s ability to meet students’ needs with a significant decrease in the school’s budget, which could result in staff layoffs, along with an unstable structure for the number of assigned classes per grade. This could mean that classes could be split grades and/or teachers would be staffed to various grades from year-to-year. Additionally, since this recommendation would reduce the number of students enrolling from outside the school’s attendance boundaries, we are concerned that this plan will increase inequities in CPS and compromise our school’s diversity.
The district offered no rationale for this recommendation to reduce enrollment. Even so, CPS may change the ideal capacity of our school to 390 students next month, which would impact our enrollment for the next school year.
While we applaud the Network’s intention to ensure Prescott is in line with accessibility standards, this proposal to reduce enrollment won’t solve Prescott’s lack of a gymnasium that meets standard middle school gym specifications (62’x104’x24’ height).
Prescott LSC does not support this recommendation.
My fellow LSC members and I do not support the district’s recommendation to reduce Prescott’s enrollment, and have already taken immediate and appropriate actions to reject this proposal.
- We are engaging Network Chief William Klee to help him understand the harm this will cause our students and our community.
- We have invited Mayor Lightfoot and CPS CEO Martinez to meet with us in Prescott’s gym to restate our students’ need for a gymnasium that meets the standard specifications which supports the latest CPS Physical Education policy, and to send the clear message that this plan for reduced enrollment is not tenable.
- We are preparing for the possibility that our community members may need to send messages to the district, and we will keep you abreast of these needs and any other significant updates.
Join us on Wednesday, December 8 at 5pm for a special LSC meeting to continue this conversation. As with all our LSC meetings, time will be reserved for public participation and we encourage you to share your questions and perspectives on this plan and how it might affect your family and our community.
Finally, I encourage all of our school community not to be discouraged by this memo, but to be fueled to continue doing what our Prescott community does best – face challenges with a renewed, collective strength to work together and build the better environment that all of our children deserve. My fellow LSC members and I are committed to continue taking actionable steps to ensure that we maintain our school’s ideal capacity of 450 students and continue our efforts towards the addition of a gym. Please continue to partner with us in these efforts. If you need any clarifications or would like to share your thoughts, please send your message to: PrescottElemLSC@gmail.com. These messages will be collected for our next special LSC meeting and we will try to answer any queries within our knowledge, and as time allows.
Prescott LSC Chair