To save an old school building known as the “casita,” Chicago parents are sitting in around the clock at Whittier Dual Language School, reports the Wall Street Journal. The $356,000 budgeted to tear down the 2,000-square-foot building should be used to fix it up and turn it into a library, parents say. They’re already collecting books.
School-district officials say the building, in a poor Latino neighborhood southwest of the Loop, is unsafe and would be too expensive to bring up to current building codes. “It’s not even a building. It’s a structure,” said Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools. “It would need to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.”
Building a new library would cost $5 million to $20 million, the district claims.
The building has been used for after-school activities, community events and, most recently, as a place for students’ mothers to take classes in sewing and English as a second language. Last year, the district built a parent meeting room, as well as science and computer labs, as part of a $1.4 million in improvements at the school.
Parents say the old building could be fixed up cheaply with the help of volunteer labor from students’ parents. They’ve already shelved 600 books and more are coming in.
Does it really take $356,000 to tear down a one-story building? And more than that to bring it up to code? Of course, the district wouldn’t get away with using volunteer labor, even if half the dads are construction workers.