West Side students invited to back-to-school celebration today

August 30, 2016
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A few hundred CPS students and family members participated Friday in one of 13 back-to-school celebrations the district is holding before classes start Sept. 6.

Participants in Friday’s event, held at Thomas Kelly High School, could get free book supplies, win prizes and even see a dentist.

Today, Aug. 30th, CPS will hold a similar event from 2 to 5 p.m. for West Side students and their families at Prosser Career Academy, 2148 N. Long Ave.

The events are intended to help students prepare for the new school year, and officials hope they will help boost enrollment.

“It definitely helps the kids to be more aware of the new term,” said Aaron Ortiz, a pre-college adviser at CPS, who attended Friday’s celebration in Brighton Park.

Friday’s bash also included games, entertainment and free food.

“I’m hopeful for the new school year,” said Andrew Martinek, a history teacher at John Hancock College Prep High School.

Last week, the Chicago Board of Education passed a $5.4 billion operating budget for the 2016-17 school year. Under the new budget, which was roundly criticized by civic groups, property taxes are expected to go up, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

CPS teachers continue to work under a contract that expired last year. Earlier this month, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis warned of a possible strike.

“The strike could very well happen,” said Martinek, who’s been teaching for 16 years and says he’s just five years from retirement. “If the status quo on the teachers’ contract remains, it will be fine. But if they try to take away (our) earnings, there will be a strike.”

“I understand (CPS is) in crisis. But they shouldn’t be punishing people who didn’t cause the crisis.”

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