By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Hyde Park – Kenwood Community Council (HP-K CC) Schools Committee is hosting another Community Action Council (CAC) informational meeting on Jan. 8. At the meeting, the community will decide if a CAC should be established in the neighborhood.
The CAC meeting will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 8, at Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. CACs consist of community members who would develop strategic plans for the schools in their communities. In November, the committee organized a campaign to keep Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., from being closed after this school year. At a December board meeting, CPS board president David Vitale recommended that the committee start a CAC. The community now has to determine if a CAC is a right fit for Hyde Park-Kenwood.
“If the community decides it doesn’t want a CAC, then the meeting will immediately be over,” said Camille Hamilton-Doyle, co-chairwoman of the HP-K CC Schools Committee. “If they decide they do want a CAC, then we will begin filling out the applications and working on a plan for the schools in our neighborhood.”
On Dec. 19, several members of the community joined HP-K CC’s School Committee at a meeting with Phillip Hampton, chief of the CPS Department of Family and Community Engagement (FACE), of which CACs are a component, and Brenda J. Bell, a CAC coordinator who lives in Hyde Park. Hamilton-Doyle said Hampton and Bell answered questions and gave the group clarity on the importance of a CAC and how to officially establish one.
If the community decides it wants to form a CAC, it will need between 20 and 35 core members. Anyone in the community can be a part of the CAC and its committees, but the core members, who would have to undergo background checks, would be the only ones with voting privileges.
Hamilton-Doyle said the Schools Committee is placing a high emphasis on inviting parents because their children attend the schools that will be directly affected by decisions made. She said principals, elected officials, faith-based leaders and more community members are also needed.
The Schools Committee is still hoping their efforts will move the school board to reverse its decision on closing Canter but if it can’t be saved they are hoping the CAC will help them take preventative measures in preserving the other public schools in Hyde Park–Kenwood.