Concept Charter School Proposal Back on Zoning Agenda

By Casey Cora on April 29, 2013 10:08am 

 Concept Charter Schools, a Des Plaines-based school management company, wants to open a new school at 2245 W. Pershing Road.
Concept Charter Schools, a Des Plaines-based school management company, wants to open a new school at 2245 W. Pershing Road.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

MCKINLEY PARK — A proposed zoning change that would pave the way for a new charter school is back on a meeting agenda after it was abruptly pulled last week.

Salim Ucan, a spokesman for Concept Charter Schools, said representatives from the charter management company met Friday with Beth Swanson, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's deputy chief of staff for education and Matt Hynes, the city’s director of the office of legislative council and governmental affairs.

Ucan said the meeting with the mayor’s office “got everyone on the same page” but that “we weren’t given any reason why it was taken off in the first place.”

Ucan last week said the proposed zoning change was yanked off the zoning committee’s agenda at the behest of Emanuel.

The Des Plaines-based Concept Charter Schools operates 27 schools across the Midwest, including the Chicago Math and Science Academy in Rogers Park.

They’re hoping to convert a vacant factory at 2245 W. Pershing Road into the Horizon Science Charter School Academy McKinley Park, a K-12 school with an enrollment of 750 and a special focus on science, math and technology.

The group would operate outside of CPS’ governance, a rarity in the charter system setup.

Concept's original bid to open two new schools was denied by CPS in September. But the group won an appeal in March from the Illinois State Charter School Commission to open the schools, one in Bowmanville and the other in McKinley Park.

Opposition from community groups and Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) derailed the group’s plan to open on the North Side.

But Ald. George Cardenas (12th) has welcomed the group to McKinley Park, saying it would offer an alternative to the area's overcrowded schools. Cardenas could not immediately reached for comment.

The zoning committee is scheduled to meet 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Ucan said approval of the zoning switch is "not guaranteed." 

"There's a process that it will go through," he said. "Hopefully it goes through."

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