DOWNTOWN — With the support of the local alderman, the Lincoln Elementary annex won approval before the Board of Education Wednesday.
The $18 million expansion was OK'd by a vote of 6-1, with Andrea Zopp the only board member opposed.
The addition was approved over the opposition of residents of the immediate area surrounding the school, who raised objections over safety and traffic congestion.
Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) addressed the Board of Education Wednesday, saying the proposed addition to the school was "updating an outdated building." She called it the "best solution" to overcrowding and a "wonderful addition."
Lincoln parent Trish Juarez pointed out the school's current enrollment is 817, well above the original capacity of 630.
Yet local resident Joy Wingren raised objections on traffic and safety and presented a petition against the annex signed by 430 people in the area.
"Our alderman does not listen to us," Wingren said, adding that Smith's support for a project that runs counter to the will of residents constituted "grounds for impeachment."
"It is not well-supported in the community," added area resident Lisa Barrow.
The contentious issue even led to a fist fight at a local meeting recently.
Wingren and Barrow suggested expanding LaSalle Language Academy instead.
Yet the proposal was well-supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who appointed the school board, and the project headed to easy approval after the board went into executive session Wednesday.
"We do our best to sort out truth from fiction," said David Vitale, president of the school board.