Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Ald. Cappleman Trib Editorial: 46th Ward Kids Need New Gym
Ald. Cappleman penned the following in Chicago Tribune "Letters Voice of the People"
"Every public school has hurdles to overcome, but McCutcheon Elementary in the 46th Ward faces a long list of challenges. More than a quarter of its students experience homelessness. One-third have cognitive disabilities, including autism. And 3 out of 4 students live in poverty.
McCutcheon does an admirable job educating the most vulnerable students in our community. But now, the school finds itself with a new challenge: its affluent neighbors.
McCutcheon is one of only five schools in Chicago’s 500-school district without its own gymnasium. Because of strong advocacy by me and McCutcheon’s former principal Gwyneth Kram, the school is finally getting a new gym as part of Chicago Public Schools’ billion-dollar capital investment in schools.
A new gym will be a godsend for McCutcheon, which has been leasing a gym at the neighboring Boys & Girls Club. The new elevator planned for the gym (linked to the main school) will mean teachers can easily bring kids in wheelchairs upstairs in the school, instead of physically carrying them, as they currently do. And the school will no longer have to spend valuable instructional time bundling up its students — many with cognitive disabilities — to bring them down the block for physical education class.
Some neighbors have filed a lawsuit to try to stop construction of the new gym.
A neighboring block club says the McCutcheon gym will have a negative impact on the neighborhood’s image (their words, not mine). These neighbors proposed that the entire school — not just the gym — should be relocated to another site.
The neighbors also argue that the gym will impede pedestrian access to Sheridan Road from some directions. CPS and my office have been very receptive to working with architects and neighbors to ensure that safe pedestrian access to Sheridan Road is preserved.
McCutcheon recently won a five-year community-schools grant that will allow students and community members to participate in productive programming in the neighborhood, where gang activity can be a concern. A new gym will provide a safe gathering space after school and on weekends — which is especially important since the neighboring Boys & Girls Club is not open on weekends.
Having a dedicated gym is a matter of equity for McCutcheon’s deserving students, 85 percent of whom are children of color. It’s time for neighbors to support this amazing school serving some of the highest-need students in our community."
— Ald. James Cappleman, 46th
By Uptown Updater - May 07, 2019