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Whittier library dispute flares up again

The heated debate over Whittier Elementary School's library continued Wednesday when community members accused Chicago Public Schools officials of reneging on a promise to install a library in the school's dilapidated field house.

The district has begun design work for a new library inside the Pilsen school, but some Whittier parents argue that it will take up valuable classroom space.

"Work with us by giving our children the library they deserve," said Whittier parent Araceli Gonzalez in comments during the monthly school board meeting. "Don't shortchange them by taking away the little room they have."

The fight over the library began in earnest last year when Whittier parents, who had been protesting the planned demolition of the field house and lack of a library at the school, staged a sit-in for a month.

City officials agreed to lease the field house to parents for $1 a year once they had incorporated as a nonprofit. Meanwhile, school officials evaluated several options for the library's placement.

On Wednesday, interim schools chief Terry Mazany sought to dispel the suggestion that CPS had promised to install a library in the field house, pointing out that Whittier's leaders had weighed in on the decision. Mazany added that enrollment projections indicate there is room for a library inside the building.

"You don't need the additional rooms for that," Mazany said.

The debate preceded the passage of a less controversial measure to add an accelerated middle school program to Lane Tech High School.

The measure's approval means that the school at 2501 W. Addison St. would accept up to 90 seventh-graders in the fall. That would give students on the North and Northwest sides early acceptance to a selective-enrollment high school closer to home.

cdizikes@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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