PILSEN — Urban Prairie, an arts-focused Waldorf school, is set to move from Pilsen to a former Catholic school building in Little Italy by September.
The private elementary school at 1601 S. Halsted St. recently confirmed lease terms with Our Lady of Pompeii Church, which owns the now-defunct Catholic school building at 1220 W. Lexington St.
According to Urban Prairie board member Heather Berhalter, the move came after demand for student slots at the school, which opened in 2009, became more than the building could support.
“The space we started out in was always going to be a temporary space for us. We’ve completely outgrown it,” Berhalter said.
Since it opened in 2009, Urban Prairie has added one grade per year and currently offers first through fourth grades.
Board President Mike Levine estimates renovating the new school will cost around $200,000.
Though Urban Prairie is leaving the Pilsen area, its sister school, a kindergarten program called City Garden, will remain at 920 W. 19th St.
“We feel very close to Pilsen and have loved being in that neighborhood,” Levine said. “Our community is very excited. We’re looking at this as the means to the next step for our growth.”
Parent Gina Joslin, a stay-at-home mom who has a 5-year-old daughter who attends City Garden, said she is excited at the prospect of having the school closer to her Near West Side home.
“We really have fallen in love with the Waldorf program,” Joslin said. “I want to stay in this community and I want more families to move into this community.”
Joslin, who lives down the street from Andrew Jackson Language Academy — one of Chicago’s top magnet schools — said she just received a rejection letter from that school last week.
She said she had already been leaning toward Urban Prairie’s Waldorf programming and is willing to shell out the almost $10,000 in tuition.
“That’s a big cost for us. It’ll mean sacrifices and changes in our lifestyle. But it turns out that those are things we’re willing to do. It might be what keeps us from moving from the city into suburbs,” she said.