Two Aldermen Open to New High School But Raise Questions About Proposal
SOUTH LOOP — Two aldermen said they are open to a creating a high school that would serve Downtown, South Loop and Near West Side residents, but say there are still many issues to resolve.
A recent community proposal to build a $90 million "Central City High School" by the neighborhood group Connecting4Communites says it would serve both students in those neighborhoods and others who attend magnet schools in the area.
The high school would draw from students living in existing boundaries currently used by four CPS elementary schools, Skinner Elementary School, 1260 W. Adams St.; South Loop Elementary, 1212 S. Plymouth Ct.; Washington Irving Elementary, 749 S. Oakley Ave. and Smyth J. Elementary, 1059 W. 13th St.
Robyn Ziegler, director of media affairs for CPS, said she was aware of Connecting4Communities' interest in a new school, but said as of now, there have been no formal discussions on the issue.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), who represents parts of the Near West Side, said he had spoken briefly with Dennis O'Neill, the executive director of Connecting4Communities, but did not know all the details.
"I would be interested in seeing what they have," Burnett said. "We're definitely in need of a high school in that area."
He added: "I'm open to exploring it. I think it wouldn't hurt."
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), who currently represents parts of the Loop and Near West Side, also supports another high school for the area, but he proposes expanding the boundaries south to Chinatown and Bronzeville.
"You have the numbers there for a neighborhood school," he said.
But he says any new school would have to utilize the old Jones College Prep building at 606 S. State St.
“There is no money in CPS to build a school,” he said, estimating a new building would cost $120 million "on the cheap side."
The community proposal, however, also suggests potentially using the Roosevelt Square redevelopment of the ABLA public housing complex on the Near West Side, but Fioretti said that area doesn’t have enough Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds to handle a project of that size.
Fioretti said he is meeting with CPS this week to discuss his plans.
But O'Neill said Fioretti's proposed boundaries would exclude the neighborhoods of Douglas to the south and University Village to the west.
“I don’t think they’ve done their homework,” he said of Fioretti's office. “I’d like to see the data on their proposal. They don’t have a model and their boundaries are kind of odd."