Letter to CPS CEO Brizard from the Whittier Parent Committee

Jean-Claude Brizard
CPS CEO
125 S. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60603

June 13, 2011

Dear Mr. Brizard:

We are writing to inform you of the current status of the ongoing matter with the Whittier Parent Committee and CPS. As you may have already been informed the Whittier Parent Committee has been advocating for more than 8 years for improvements at John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary School. Although the persisting advocacy of the parents at Whittier elementary has lead to some improvements at the school there are still a handful of issues that have been left on the table that your predecessors did not get a chance to attend to before their departure.

The Whittier Parent Committee was formed because of major concerns by parents of the facilities at Whittier Elementary. The main mission for this committee is to get the best possible quality public education for their children as well as the rest of the children from across the city of Chicago. We stand behind the concept of fairness and transparency when it comes to making decisions for facility improvements and the quality of education for children. Since most of our families at Whittier Elementary are low income we understand the concept of spending smarter so that we can get the best value for our money. Therefore, we ask that you please pay close attention to our following statement.

In the fall of 2010 the CPS administration decided that it would be a good idea to take $364,000 from Tax Increment Funding that the Whittier Parent Committee had manage to secure from their Alderman for facility improvements to the building and use it to demolish a well used community center housed in the Whittier elementary field house. The former CEO of CPS Ron Huberman had made a decision without getting the thoughts of the parents, students and community members from Whittier Elementary. But after much advocacy and a 43 day sit-in Mr. Huberman finally met with members of the Whittier Parent committee. After a series of three meetings between the Whittier Parent Committee, district representatives and Mr. Huberman we came to some commitments which are the following:

1.      The Whittier Field house will not be demolished.

2.      The Whittier Field house will be leased to the Whittier Parent Committee.

3.      The $364,000 will be reallocated for the renovations of the Whittier Field House.

4.      $200,000 from State funding will also be use for renovations of the Whittier Field house.

5.      Whittier Elementary will get a library (the location was not determined).

In addition, the Whittier Parent Committee declared an end to their sit-in because of these agreements. After the declaration by the committee, the former CEO of CPS Mr. Huberman left his position at CPS and had a temporary CEO replace him which was your predecessor Terry Mazany. The Whittier Parent Committee never had an opportunity to meet with Mr. Mazany to finalize arrangements for the commitments made by Mr. Huberman. Therefore, CPS administration made an informal decision without the Whittier Parent Committee and district representatives to house the much needed library at Whittier in the main building.  This decision is something that the Whittier Parent Committee never agreed upon do to the lack of space in the main building at Whittier Elementary.

Moreover the Whittier Parent Committee never had an opportunity to showcase their proposal for the location of the library and renovations to the Whittier field house to the CPS CEO and board members. As you might be aware CPS plans to move forward with their plan to house a library in the main building of Whittier Elementary. But these plans will only cause more problems to the students, parents and community at Whittier Elementary because it is displacing children and wasting money on a plan that is not well thought out for the future and causes more problems rather than solutions.

In contrast the Whittier Parent Committee has been working with a nonprofit design advocacy organization that provided probono architecture services and together we have an extraordinarily eco-friendly design for the renovation of the Whittier Field House. This design has also been awarded for being educational and environmentally friendly. This design was a collaboration of ideas from students, parents and community members from Whittier Elementary. We are prepared to present this design and budget to you Mr. Brizard and the rest of the CPS board members.

Furthermore, we ask that you please give us an opportunity to sit down with you and the new administration at CPS to form a dialog that has disappeared since the departure of former CEO of CPS Ron Huberman in order to better serve our children at Whittier Elementary and to save money. We also ask that you please put a hold on the plans for the construction of the library inside the main building of Whittier Elementary until you have had a chance to hear our proposal.

We look forward to hearing from you and your administration by Wednesday June 15, 2011.

Sincerely,

The Whittier Parent Committee
1900 W. 23rd St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(773)431-1431