Supporting our schools in the face of budget cuts

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It is that time of year again! The beginning of the school year for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is on the horizon. Once again, our streets will be filled with a parade of bright-eyed, backpack-clad youngsters on their way to one of the greatest assets in our community: our neighborhood CPS schools. 

Oscar Mayer Magnet School and Lincoln Park High School are two of the top-rated schools in the city and state. One need only peruse the schools' websites to learn of the consistent academic excellence of their students, as well as all of the awards and accolades for their individual achievements in the arts and sciences. Both schools also feature the International Baccalaureate Program and renowned programs in art and music.  In essence, these phenomenal local schools are vital to the Sheffield neighborhood. 

This year, however, our CPS neighborhood schools face a real and growing challenge: significant budget cuts to CPS funding.  The landscape has changed, and both schools are in critical need of our support to continue the excellence we have all come to associate with our neighborhood CPS schools.  The schools' parent-driven organizations, the Friends of Lincoln Park High School and the Friends of Oscar Mayer, are working tirelessly to maintain that excellence and they are calling on their neighbors and local businesses for support. Please consider the messages below from these remarkable organizations:

From the Friends of Oscar Mayer Magnet School:

Oscar Mayer Magnet School — located in the Sheffield neighborhood on Clifton, between Belden and Webster — is the only CPS school offering a powerful combination of Montessori, International Baccalaureate and Fine Arts to foster intellectual curiosity, creative thinking, and global citizenship for all students age 3 to grade 8.

This year, CPS’s budget cuts targeted these specialized, fundamental programs, but Friends of Mayer (FOM, the parent-and-community fundraising arm for the school) was able to reinstate that funding, thanks to the incredible support of local businesses, community support and our committed parents.

At a time when schools across the city have had to make tough budget decisions, losing sports or art or foreign language or specialty programs like IB or Montessori, Mayer Magnet has cut nothing. And that is because FOM filled the gap. But, in order to keep all programs in place next year, we anticipate needing at least $600,000 from FOM to fill Mayer’s operating budget gaps.

1. Please consider a donation today to stand with the community to support our neighborhood school. Simply click here: https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d1/default.aspx?wid=71592.

2. Celebrate the season with FOM for a Fall Fest after school on Friday, September 25. Meet on the blacktop to learn about all of the exciting, collaborative things we have in store for the 2015-2016 school year. You can learn more about the great opportunities offered to your children outside of their classrooms and ways in which you can support the school and get involved. The Fall Fest is the perfect way to jump into the action!

From the Friends of Lincoln Park High School:

If you live in Chicago, it’s hard to miss the fact that funding for the Chicago Public Schools has reached a critical juncture.  “Chicago Public Schools faces cash crunch now, possible crisis in the fall,” read the headline of a recent Chicago Tribune article.

With that backdrop, the facts don’t change — we need to do our absolute best to educate our students, regardless of the CPS and state support we receive.  Lincoln Park High School is one of the top high schools in Illinois, and the goal is to keep it there.  Here are three ways you can get involved now:

 1.       Go to DonorsChoose.org, search for “Lincoln Park High School Chicago Illinois,” and give generously to one of the projects that show up in your search.  LPHS teachers almost always have a project seeking funding on the site, and you can help them meet their funding goals.

2.       Send an e-mail to folphs@gmail.com and ask to be added to our distribution list.  That way you will always know what’s going on at the school, and receive an e-mail when specific funding requests or volunteer needs come up.

3.       Get involved in the #1School1Community initiative featured recently in the Chicago Tribune by sending an e-mail to 1school1communitylphs@gmail.com.  The group raised $12,000 and just finished its first project — painting all the LPHS classrooms.  It is starting in on a number of additional initiatives that require both funding and volunteers.

The school welcomes any and all community involvement — this is your neighborhood high school, admitting all students who live in the neighborhood.  If you have questions, please contact folphs@gmail.com for more information.  Though the CPS budget situation is difficult, we are committed to the continued success of LPHS.

Brett Gallagher chairs SNA’s Schools Committee.