LOGAN SQUARE — Chicago Public Schools has agreed to remove Monroe Elementary’s “rotting” mobile classroom.
The announcement comes right after Block Club Chicago published a story highlighting the school community’s years-long effort to get it removed.
The mobile classroom was originally meant to address overcrowding at Monroe when it arrived on the Logan Square elementary school’s campus, at 3651 W. Schubert Ave., more than 30 years ago. But the school is no longer overcrowded, and therefore has little to no use for the extra space, according to school leaders.
Not only that, but the facility has greatly deteriorated over the years, making it unsafe for students. School leaders said the classroom suffers from non-functioning smoke alarms, a rat infestation and poor plumbing, among other issues. Because it sits vacant most of the time, it’s also become a magnet for loiterers and gang members when school is not in session, they said.
“The custodians who clean them say there’s a very, very bad smell coming up from the plumbing,” Maria Gutierrez, president of the Local School Council, told Block Club Chicago in Spanish through a translator.
“[There’s] a lot of black soot. On the floor, when you mop, it’s rotted out. It’s rotting from the inside out,” she said.
It’s unclear exactly when the district will remove the classroom, or how many other schools within CPS are having similar issues with their mobile classrooms. District spokeswoman Emily Bolton confirmed Monroe’s classroom would be removed, but couldn’t immediately answer further questions.
For school leaders, the commitment to remove it is enough to feel like they’ve won. Throughout the school’s history, many leaders have called for its removal, but none were successful until now.
Once the classroom is removed, Principal Quinlan and members of the Local School Council will solicit ideas from the community on what to put in its place. They envision a place for students to run around, like a turf field, but they’re open to suggestions.
A $2 million capital improvement project is also underway at Monroe, according to Chicago Cityscape, which tracks online permits. The work includes repairs to the school’s leaky roof and masonry, as well as some fresh paint.