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Weatherspoon at front of Brunswick Elementary School

Incoming Gary city councilman says he will tackle abandoned schools

Contributed By:The 411 News

Cozey Weatherspoon blames the school district and the state for blight and safety risks

[CORRECTION: Our initial story stated, “Edison High School has been unused since 1968, when West Side High opened to accommodate the growing population on the city’s west side.” Readers pointed out that Edison remained open until 2002.]

Cozey Weatherspoon doesn’t usually attend school board meetings. Now, the long-time precinct committeeperson and likely the next Gary City Councilman for the 2nd District says he can’t be quiet about the conditions of schools in his city, especially the buildings no longer in use.

Weatherspoon attended the recent meeting of the Gary Community Schools Corporation’s Advisory Board to speak out about the concerns he and his constituents have about Edison Middle School and Brunswick Elementary School, both in the 2nd District.

Edison had been a high school prior to 1968. With the opening of West Side High School, Edison was changed to a middle school. The school closed in 2002 because of complaints from parents and teachers about asbestos and mold.

Brunswick was among 5 schools the Gary school district closed in 2014.

At its peak, the Gary school corporation had 40 schools open; today that number is down to students attending only eight. Throughout the city, vacant and abandoned schools are a concern to residents.

“One of my campaign issues was the safety risks these abandoned buildings pose to our neighborhoods. Open buildings are dangerous and they have become dumping grounds,” Weatherspoon said at the meeting.

Weatherspoon is not waiting to take his official seat January 1, 2020 on Gary’s city council to highlight the problems. “I am contacting our state Senator Eddie Melton and Senator J.D. Ford, a member of the Distressed Unit Appeal Board to do something about these buildings.” He said the state needs to be held accountable. “The school district of Gary hasn’t done its part; it also needs to be held accountable.”

During a walk of the grounds at Brunswick Elementary School, Weatherspoon pointed to drains where the manhole covers have been removed. “People take them and sell them on the scrap metal market.”

Pointing to the windows on both floors where entire frames with the glass have been removed, Weatherspoon said, “This isn’t the work of crack heads; this was done by professionals.”

It’s the same at Edison, where Weatherspoon attended before going on to West Side. “We played basketball on the courts next door to the gym. Look at this,” he said, “the gym door is still open.”

Classroom at Brunswick Elementary still has books on shelves

Witherspoon says only professionals could have removed entire window frames

Story Posted:09/15/2019

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