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CPS: Lafayette Building One of Nine Being Considered for ChiArts

By Victoria Johnson | November 4, 2013 3:53pm
 Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd.
Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd.
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Flickr/Brule Laker

LOGAN SQUARE — A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said Monday that the former Lafayette Elementary School building is one of nine locations being considered for the Chicago High School for the Arts.

The spokeswoman denied a Sun-Times report, which cited City Hall sources characterizing the choice of Lafayette as "a done deal."

Lafayette Elementary, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., was one of 49 schools closed at the end of the last school year. The Chicago High School for the Arts, known as ChiArts, is currently located in Bronzeville where it shares a building with Doolittle Elementary School.

"We've been working with ChiArts for well over a year to try to find them a permanent home," said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll. "This [Lafayette] is one of nine potential locations, but ultimately the search is still in the planning process."

This is not the first time Lafayette has been floated as a possible home to ChiArts. In 2010 officials discussed plans of having ChiArts share the space with Lafayette Elementary School, something some Lafayette parents think may have saved the school.

"There were plans for it, there were tons and tons of meetings for it, and before we knew it they were gone," said former Lafayette LSC Chair Valerie Nelson. "A lot of people think Lafayette would have been saved if ChiArts would have moved in there."

Carroll said ChiArts, at the time, did not feel there would be enough room if they had to share the building.

"There were a number of conversations around that. However, ChiArts determined that the available space would not accommodate the unique needs that they have as an arts education facility," Carroll said. "There was never a promise. There was never a guarantee."

Last year, CPS announced plans last year to move ChiArts into Malcolm X College, but those plans also fell through.

"After evaluating what would the cost would be associated with upgrading that facility to fully serve the unique needs of ChiArts, the cost of that was neither feasible for ChiArts to bear nor the district to bear," Carroll said of those plans.

Nelson, meanwhile, has moved to Aurora where her daughters now attend school.

She said she's frustrated that the plans to move ChiArts may now be moving forward, but is trying to look on the bright side for her former community and the building that once housed Lafayette's much-loved string orchestra.

"At least there'll be music in the halls again," she said.