Dismissal from Marsh elementary on Chicago’s Southeast Side is a quintessential American scene. The bell rings, kids pour from the school and down the neighborhood’s streets, swinging backpacks and asking moms like Toni Gonzalez for ice cream.
“This school is a hidden treasure,” Gonzalez said as she waited among dozens of moms and dads for her kids to emerge from Marsh on one of the last days of school, in June. “Very tight community, very well organized school. I actually work in the area too, so I’m using my lunch hour to pop over and pick the kids up.”
Marsh is a classic neighborhood school. Ninety-four percent of the Chicago Public Schools students in Marsh’s attendance boundary are enrolled here, and that’s despite an explosion in families’ options — many more charter schools, gifted or magnet schools to choose from. Kids can even go to other neighborhood schools; while the district once insisted that a child live in the attendance boundary to enroll in a neighborhood school, that rule has been relaxed.