20 CPS schools lose power due to storm; parents say they weren’t notified

CHICAGO -- Sunday night's powerful winter storm left about 20 Chicago Public Schools, but some parents said they were never notified of the problem.

Debbie Knight, a parent at Wildwood Elementary School, said she brought her two children to school not knowing the power was out.  Wildwood was one of the 20 CPS schools that lost power at some point because of the weather.

North Grand High School on the West Side was another school that lost power, and used a generator for partial power.

Hitch Elementary on the Northwest Side also lost power. The school's principal sent a letter to parents saying the power outage lasted for the first hour of school. He said his ability to send out a robocall to parents was hindered, because the internet phones at the school didn't work due to the outage.

For parents like Knight, she said it shows weakness in preparedness for CPS.

“I can understand if they want to keep the schools open, but when you find out that there are particular schools where there are downed power lines or something wasn’t working right…you have to give parents the opportunity to say hey, if you have nowhere for your child to go, come in, we’ll keep them safe, but if you don’t want to leave them here, you don’t have to,” Knight said.

CPS issued the following statement: 

“Ensuring students have access to a safe school environment is a top priority, and we have been working with school leaders to ensure plans are in place to safely support students following last night's storm. Thanks to strong weekend planning and collaboration with the City of Chicago and ComEd, the vast majority of schools opened today without issue and nearly all of the approximately 20 schools that experienced some power loss were prepared to safely support students in their school buildings today."

Background:

- To help ensure schools were prepared for the arrival of students today, CPS plowed and salted school grounds throughout the night and early morning, and all transportation and Safe Passage services were deployed as usual. CPS also deployed facility staff to schools early today to help identify and begin addressing any potential issues caused by the inclement weather.

- Following last night's storm, approximately 20 CPS schools have some level of power loss.

- Nearly all schools impacted by power loss have safe temperatures and partial power on their campus and are able to safely remain open today.

- Shields Elementary is the only school where relocation was necessary. Students at Shields ES were moved to Shields Middle School earlier today.

- Several of the impacted schools moved classes to other buildings on their campus where power was operational.

- CPS anticipates that building operations will be fully operational for tomorrow's school day. Schools will be in contact with parents regarding any potential updates.

The Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement:

"Students in twenty schools were robbed today of warmth and educational stability – because the mayor's appointees who run our schools simply don’t care about their learning conditions. CPS' un-elected board of education is not fit to oversee a dog park, let alone a school district of over 500 schools. Their neglect of neighborhood public schools is chronic and unconscionable – and for years, they have particularly undercut schools on Chicago’s South and West Sides, through deep budget cuts and disastrous privatization schemes. Every single month, parents, educators and community residents stream into CPS headquarters to appeal to the board to fix a broken boiler or repair crumbling walls and windows. Yet this board continues to violate the state’s educational facilities management law, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new construction that benefits more affluent neighborhoods – while ignoring billions of dollars in needs at schools that already exist.

"The mayoral bureaucrats who run our public school district have dropped the ball for years in addressing dire needs in our schools. Today’s disaster simply underscores this failure. CPS must immediately release the funds to provide repairs at these afflicted schools. And the state’s new governor needs to immediately sign legislation to approve an elected, representative school board. It's long past time to allow the people of this city to elect school board members who actually care about the educations of our students, instead of covering for the political fortunes of the individual who occupies the mayor's seat."