CPS' new point man on school actions faced an angry crowd of about 60 people at the first community hearing on proposed guidelines for school closings. Not only were many audience members opposed to school closings, they were also skeptical that Oliver Sicat, the chief portfolio officer, would have the power to make changes based on their feedback.
Angela Surney, whose children attend Marconi, which was on the school closings list last year but was spared, compared Sicat to a “puppet” and a “sheep led to slaughter.”
Other audience members heckled Sicat and shouted questions at him. The meeting ended with loud chants of "Save Our Schools," drowning out any last minute remarks from Sicat.
It was the first of what could be two contentious meetings on closings; CPS has another meeting slated for Wednesday night. While the hearing was called to vet the district's guidelines, most participants talked about the lack of resources spent on schools that are now on the target list for closings. It was also clear how little trust those in the audience had in CPS, which has spent the last decade closing schools and opening new ones.
It's not clear how many schools could be targeted for closing this year, but the number will likely be higher than the five to 10 that have closed each year recently.
Opponents of the closings are already planning their next steps, which include a forum on Dec. 3 at King College Prep and a vigil the night before the December school board meeting.