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Protesters Demand CPS, Mayor Halt Cuts, Ask 'Rich to Pay Their Fair Share'

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) speaks at a rally to prevent funding cuts to neighborhood schools at the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square Tuesday morning.

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LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is calling on the mayor to declare a TIF surplus to spare Chicago's neighborhood schools from another round of budget cuts.

Ramirez-Rosa spoke at a rally in Logan Square Tuesday morning where community members representing 10 neighborhood schools that are set to lose more than $4 million in funding demanded those cuts be reversed.

"Our families and our children have paid enough," the alderman said. "It's time for the rich to pay their fair share."

Of 11 neighborhood Logan Square schools, 10 are set to face spending cuts.

To prevent those cuts Ramirez-Rosa and a number of community representatives from those schools are asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel to declare a surplus in the city's tax increment financing fund and to use that money to go directly to neighborhood schools.

“There are districts throughout this city where the property tax dollars that should be going to our schools are siphoned off and used as handouts to big corporations and big businesses," Ramirez-Rosa said. "I think that’s wrong.”

Ramirez-Rosa was joined by Ald. Milly Santiago (31st) Tuesday morning, who also called on the mayor to use excess TIF funds as a stopgap.

"This is completely unacceptable," she said. "If there's money for charter schools, there has to be money for our local schools."

Protesters rally to save neighborhood schools from funding cuts in Logan Square Tuesday morning.

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The hardest hit Logan Square school, Kelvyn Park High School, will lose $1.69 million for the 2015-2016 school year.

Those cuts will impact tutoring programs, field trips, transportation for sports teams and require the elimination of some programs and teaching positions, said Hector Gonzalez, a Kelvyn Park teacher and LSC member.

At Darwin Elementary, funding for school supplies will be cut from the typical $40,000 to $3,000, which is approximately $6 for every student.

Other schools such as Monroe Elementary are losing a music teacher and band director.

Alondra Gonzalez, a soon-to-be sophomore at Kelvin Park, attended Tuesday's rally to help save programs at her school that will be cut.

"I'm fighting for me as well as my classmates and friends," she said.

Gonzalez said for some classmates Kelvin Park was the only CPS school they were accepted to and that cutting more programs and tutoring would have a extemely negative impact.

"How are they going to be able to move on in life?" she said. "They are going to be out in the street doing who knows what."

The spending cuts, which were announced by Chicago Public Schools July 13, are due to systemwide cuts but also enrollment declines in the schools which are funded on a student-based budgeting system.

That means schools receive a per-pupil amount for every student enrolled.

Gentrification in the neighborhood displacing low and moderate income families has resulted in lower enrollment at neighborhood schools making the cuts more severe, according to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

Local leaders are demanding the Chicago Housing Authority invest its cash reserves into scattered-site housing throughout Logan Square, Avondale and surrounding areas to stabilizing communities.

The housing authority has $440 million in cash reserves.

“Our school budgets are getting chopped at the same time families are struggling to stay in their community," said Jennifer Velazquez, a Kelvyn Park High School graduate and local school council member. "The working class is being targeted.”

Kelvyn Park is projected to see a drop of about 125 students in the 2015-2016 schools year. The school's budget was already slashed by 27 percent in 2013.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) speaks with residents after a rally at the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square Tuesday morning.

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Ald. Ramirez-Rosa pointed to the significant loss of housing at the Lathrop Homes site, which contains 925 low-rise units on 30 acres.

Only a fraction of those homes are occupied and the plans to redevelop the site with mixed-income housing have dragged on for years.

"I want to make sure if we are losing any units of affordable housing that they are replaced one-for-one and that they have a home here in my area of Logan Square," Ramirez-Rosa said.

Laura Crotte (l.) performed during the rally.

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Keywords: Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Alderman Milly Santiago, Alondra Gonzalez, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, CPS, Darwin Elementary, Emanuel, Jennifer Velazquez, Kelvyn Park High School, Laura Crotte, Milly Santiago, Monroe Elementary, rahm emanuel, TIF, TIF Surplus

Posted in News, Youth, Lathrop, Affordable Housing, Education, LSNA in the Media