Easing overcrowding at Lincoln with a possible phase-out of LaSalle
Thank you from one of our best field obsessers who tipped me off on this interesting story about the possible phase-out of LaSalle, one of the coveted north side Magnet schools. I didn’t realize that Lincoln Elementary was overcrowded. People are still moving into Lincoln Park? Everyone I meet these days lives in the Ukranian Village. I think we can foretell where the school problems will be occuring 10-15 years from now when all the UK Village young people procreate….
In any case, while I admire CPS’ willingness to problem-solve, ouch, it hurts a bit to lose South Loop RGC and now a well-regarded magnet school.
From WBEZ.org by Linda Lutton:
Chicago Public Schools is floating a plan to phase out one of its most popular magnet schools.
LaSalle Language Academy magnet school in Old Town gets 1,500 applications a year for around 70 openings.
Now, CPS wants to slowly convert the magnet to a neighborhood school that draws from the immediate area, one of the ritziest in the city. The school would take no new magnet school kindergartners in the fall, unless they already had a sibling enrolled in the school. Instead, the kindergarten would be filled with neighborhood children.
The change would relieve overcrowding at nearby Lincoln Elementary, where rising test scores have made the school a popular option for Lincoln Park families.
But LaSalle parents say the change would also dismantle their school’s diversity, achieved from 30 years as a desegregation school.
“You’re dramatically going to alter the nature and the demographics of the school,” says Tom Brennan, parent of two children at LaSalle and co-chair of the local school council.
Brennan says the proposal would be a particular loss to families from neighborhoods without great schools. He said families come from as far away as 85th and Escanaba and the Montclare neighborhood to attend LaSalle.
“They will not have diversity, a strong academic tradition, and other cultural, positive things that are not available to them in their current local school area.”
Observers and even some CPS estimates show enrollment at high-performing Lincoln and LaSalle schools would become overwhelmingly white. An internal CPS document obtained by WBEZ shows the district estimates LaSalle could shift from its current racial makeup of 33 percent white students to 63 percent white students.
The document estimates Lincoln Elementary would also educate a greater percentage of white students. Currently, 63 percent of students at Lincoln are white; 69 percent of students in what would be Lincoln’s new attendance area are white.
The plan would have violated Chicago’s desegregation agreement, which a judge ended two years ago. Since then, six more schools have become majority white, bringing the total to 25. The district overall is 92 percent minority.
CPS wants to add more magnet school seats at a school in West Town, LaSalle Language II, to compensate for those the city will lose at LaSalle.
CPS is presenting its plan to schools Tuesday evening. It wants the Board of Education to vote on the proposal in January or February.
Alderman’s Letter to the Community
- Students currently enrolled at Lincoln would remain at Lincoln.
- Students currently enrolled at LaSalle would remain at LaSalle.
- The new southern attendance boundary for Lincoln would be Armitage Ave. All the Lincoln attendance area below Armitage Avenue would become LaSalle’s boundary, beginning with incoming Kindergarten students in Fall 2012. Here is a map: .
- For families living north of Armitage, there would be no change.
- For families living south of Armitage, Lincoln would no longer be their neighborhood school – it would be LaSalle. CPS will do a study to determine the number of siblings of current Lincoln families who live south of Armitage to decide whether such siblings will be allowed to enroll at Lincoln. If there are not too many, the siblings will be able to attend Lincoln. If there are too many, there may have to be a lottery among the siblings. CPS agreed that if any parents south of Armitage do NOT want to consider LaSalle as a potential school for a new kindergartener, they should get an application in elsewhere immediately.
- LaSalle would not have a new magnet enrollment for Fall of 2012. Instead, the Fall 2012 Kindergarten would be composed of siblings of those already enrolled and neighborhood children living south of Armitage. With each passing year, LaSalle would become less of a magnet school and more of a neighborhood school. CPS would make NO commitment to siblings of out of area children beyond next year’s class.
- CPS would make NO guarantee that LaSalle’s existing magnet resources, meaning its language program, would continue. A group of LaSalle parents have been trying for years to have a modest addition built to the school to offer ancillary space. Under the CPS’ proposal, this addition would not be built – but worse, as LaSalle becomes more of a neighborhood school, the very program that made it great would likely end.