Tilton and Marconi get reprieve, won’t be consolidated this year

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Chicago Public Schools officials announced Thursday night that district officials would not go forward with a proposal to phase out Tilton Elementary School and send its future students to Marconi Elementary on the West Side.  

Chicago Public Schools officials announced Thursday night that district officials would not go forward with a proposal to phase out Tilton Elementary School and send its future students to Marconi Elementary on the West Side.  
Speaking at a public hearing on the matter, CPS Officer for School Relations Jose Alvarez said that the district was convinced to pull the offer off the table.  Several gangs occupy the schools’ West Garfield Park neighborhood, and community members have repeatedly voiced concerns about the safety of children forced to walk to Marconi to attend class.  
This is the second year that officials proposed combining Tilton and Marconi and later withdrew the proposals.
After Alvarez’s statement at least one “hallelujah” arose from the crowd of Tilton teachers and parents who had gathered at CPS headquarters to present evidence against the proposal.  “I am glorified by the decision that was made here today,” said Jacqueline Brumfield, a Tilton parent and local school council member.
Alderman Jason Ervin thanked CPS officials for withdrawing the proposal. But, given that both schools are under-utilized, he doubted the issue had gone away for good.  As such, he said he planned to form a task force to investigate more solutions to the problem of underuse at Tilton.
At an earlier hearing, parents, teachers and students at Hans Christian Andersen Elementary presented evidence against the consolidation of that school into LaSalle II, a magnet school.  Though the two schools already share a campus, community members said the sense of community at Andersen would be lost with the consolidation.  They also expressed anger at the perceived heavy-handedness of school officials.
“Mayor Daley said he wanted to close the worst schools but he closed one of the very best when he phased Andersen out,” said Zoraida Lopez, an Andersen parent.
When CPS CEO Terry Mazany originally proposed the consolidation, he said Andersen students would be given seats in Lasalle II. But CPS officials said Thursday that Andersen’s small student population would be assigned to Pritzker next year. Changing Pritzker’s attendance boundaries would require a separate proposal and hearing process.
Both the Tilton and Andersen plans were part of a broader consolidation proposal laid out by CPS Interim CEO Terry Mazany last month.  On Friday night, the hearings continue with the proposal to combine Carpenter and Talcott, Jahn and Schneider. They take place at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark St.