Chicago's Belmont Cragin residents spoke out Thursday against a charter school's relocation into their community.
The Horizon Science Academy Belmont, which is managed by the charter operator Concept Schools, moved from 5035 W. North Ave. in North Austin to 2456 N. Mango Ave. in Belmont Cragin to accommodate more students. The new location is opening this fall.
In announcing relocation plans to parents last December, Horizon Science Academy Belmont officials said the school had outgrown its original building and was unable to expand beyond 7th grade in that space.
At a Thursday night press conference, the Northwest Side Housing Center and Belmont Cragin residents said many parents in the Belmont Cragin community were unaware of the planned relocation "until they received fliers in the mail recruiting their children."
Belmont Cragin residents rallied in support of their local neighborhood schools, which are in need of greater resources, according to the Northwest Side Housing Center and local parents, who have the support of state Sen. Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) and state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago).
"We have amazing neighborhood public schools in Belmont Cragin," Guzzardi said in a statement. "Instead of opening new schools and making drastic cuts to existing ones, we should be supporting the great ones we have. I stand with the Belmont Cragin community in advocating for adequate resources to all the schools in our neighborhood."
Aquino added: "We must ensure that the quality of the education being taught at our schools does not diminish. The expansion of charter schools is siphoning away resources from our neighborhood schools here in Belmont Cragin. CPS is being undermined by the Illinois Charter School Commission and our neighborhood schools and students are the ones losing out of resources because of it. I stand and support these working class families to ensure our children are able to receive the highest quality education from their local neighborhood schools."