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CPS hires help to make transition to welcoming schools

Monday, July 01, 2013

A city-wide effort to help transition closed Chicago Public Schools to new "welcoming schools" began Monday.

Community members, parents, and some young people are among those hired by CPS to get the job done.

Ciera Cooper says her new summer job is one she just couldn't pass up.

"It's really tough to find a job nowadays especially when you don't have no work experience," said Cooper, Austin resident.

The 22-year old Austin neighborhood resident is one of the 245 students and community residents hired to pack up furniture and supplies at the 51 schools shuttered by Chicago Public School officials. On Monday, a team began work at John Calhoun North Elementary School.

"It's kind of sad that one of our family schools are closing but this is a very good opportunity for us all," Cooper said.

Their work began Monday morning after a short training session.

For $8.25 per hour and a CTA stipend, the hires selected through the One Summer Chicago Initiative will pack up learning tools and move furniture. Others will be assigned to IT teams.

They'll also sort out the damaged items to determine what will be sent to welcoming schools like Willa Cather Elementary where transition preps are also underway.

The school's computer labs are being renovated and additional teachers brought in.

Back at Calhoun, Cooper works the first of her 8-hour, Monday through Saturday work schedule as she hopes to make the next school year a safe and productive one.

"I am a parent. My son will be a student very soon, so I would really like to be a positive role model for the students," said Cooper.

In all, more than 800 members from these school communities are being hired to help out, including 600 workers who will help with the district's expanded safe passage program.

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