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UNO Rogers Park Wants to Add High School Classes, But Neighbors Protest

By Benjamin Woodard | April 16, 2013 8:27am | Updated on April 16, 2013 10:07am
 UNO Charter Schools opened a Rogers Park location in 2012 on the former campus of St. Scholastica Academy.
UNO Charter Schools opened a Rogers Park location in 2012 on the former campus of St. Scholastica Academy.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

WEST ROGERS PARK — UNO Charter Schools, now offering courses only for kindergarten through eighth-grade students at its Rogers Park location, wants to expand to offer high school classes at the old St. Scholastica site, UNO officials said.

Members of a neighborhood anti-charter group, called Rogers Park Neighbors for Public Schools, protested the proposed expansion at a Chicago Public Schools hearing.

"We are opposed — that’s the long and short of it," said Tim Furman, a member of the group and public education activist. "We’re opposed to new charters in Rogers Park, and we view this as a new charter."

Furman said a few members of the group testified at the preliminary hearing. The proposal would need to be approved by Chicago Board of Education.

Matt Moeller, UNO's chief of academic affairs, said the school plans to offer ninth-grade classes in the fall, then add a grade level in each following year through 12th grade.

He said the school had received more than 100 applications from families interested in enrolling in ninth-grade classes.

UNO's Rogers Park campus, at 7416 N. Ridge Blvd., currently serves 500 K-8 students.

In fall 2012, UNO opened suddenly in West Rogers Park on St. Scholastica Academy's campus after the all-girl Catholic school ended regular classes. Its senior class, however, continues to occupy the top floor of the building.

Since then — and when Rogers Park schools were threatened with closure earlier this year — a grassroots movement has rallied against new charter schools opening in the neighborhood.

Opponents, like Furman, say charters pull students and resources away from neighborhood schools.

Last month, hundreds of people marched to Ald. Joe Moore's North Side doorstep, asking him to publicly denounce charter schools.

Moore wasn't home, but said in an interview that he supported a temporary moratorium on new charter schools for the next school year, although he wouldn't object to a qualified charter opening in the neighborhood.

UNO expects the proposal to expand its offerings to high school students to go before the Board of Education this month.