Debate Over CCPA Closure

CCPA student addresses the board as other students stand in background

CCPA student addresses the board as other students stand in background

Last week’s district 186 school board meeting in Springfield was contentious to say the least. On the agenda: voting to approve a new interim superintendent and deciding again whether or not to close a school. The second decision drew the ire of a large crowd of parents, teachers, students, and other concerned community members. Rachel Otwell tells us more, and brings us two interviews:


During the proceedings at the March fifth meeting, security guards escorted out at least one parent who was yelling over the board in anger about their child’s school closing. One student went to the podium out of turn and told the board she wanted to give her jacket she wore as a student at Capital College Preparatory Academy back to them. It took several minutes for security to convince her to leave.

It’s no secret emotions were high that evening as the board took a second vote on closing the CCPA. It was close: 4 to 3, and earlier in the meeting board member Bill Looby suggested that maybe the board should table the vote, that maybe they could consider keeping it open in some capacity after further study, perhaps as a “school within a school.” But that suggestion was also voted down.

Those who attended the meeting, which was held in a gymnasium versus the normal board room due to the high turn-out, were met at the door by CCPA students. They handed out papers meant to show why the school should remain open. One chart used ISAT reading trend data and showed that on average, students who started at the school in 6th grade increased their reading test scores from the previous year by 17 percent.

CCPA was a project of Superintendent Walter Milton and opened in in 2010. It’s known for serving low-income students grades 6 through 8 from a variety of ethnic backgrounds,  and it aims to put them on the path to higher education. Milton will be leaving the district next month. Here’s what the Academy’s Academy’s PTA president, Bob Ogden, had to say after the board voted to close it:


Susan White is the school board’s president. This interview took place immediately after the first candidate forum for the district 186 election. I started by asking her what she thinks of claims that CCPA was chosen to be closed because it was a project launched by now ousted Superintendent Milton:


As the school board struggles to come up with a way to save several million dollars for the next fiscal year, hurdles include the lack of a long-term budget plan and a community that largely opposes property tax increases. Everyone’s being told none of the cuts are being made easily. Those who want CCPA to remain open say they still have hope that the doors won’t be closing forever – that a new school board to be seated after the election in April may see things differently.

CLICK HERE for more information on upcoming candidate forums for the district 186 school board.

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