Almost two years ago, the city of Chicago rallied to help save the music program of a West Humboldt Park public school -- and today, that same school is on the district's chopping block.
The after-school orchestra program at Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., has been run by the non-profit group Merit School for Music for over a decade and has grown into one of the largest string orchestra programs citywide.
More than ninety percent of the student population of Lafayette live in poverty and 30 percent of its students are enrolled in special education programs. The student population at the school is 60 percent Hispanic and 35 percent black.
"They live in one of the wealthiest cities and wealthiest nations in the world, and some of these students have barely anything," principal Trisha Shrode told the Associated Press of her students in a 2011 interview. "Some of them don't have clean clothes. They don't have items for school."
(Watch a 2010 report on Lafayette's orchestra. Embedded above, watch highlights from the orchestra's March 13 celebration concert.)
The orchestra has turned heads in the past, receiving invitations to perform at the Capitol Rotunda in Springfield, and a former Lafayette parent previously described the program as the reason her children attend the school.
Parents at Lafayette, one of 54 schools set to close before next fall under the district's plan, told DNAinfo last week they felt their alderman, Ald. Roberto Maldonado (28th), did not do enough to help defend the school from closing.
Under the closing plan, Lafayette's general-education students will be transferred to Chopin Elementary School, but the school's Local School Council chairwoman told DNA they were still unsure where their special education students will be sent.
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