RIVER NORTH — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended his decision to expand Lincoln Park's Lincoln Elementary school, even in an era of limited resources for Chicago Public Schools.
"There are about 50 schools that are overcrowded," Emanuel told reporters at an unrelated news conference at the Merchandise Mart. "We don't have the resources to meet all the needs, much to my desire."
Union officials questioned why Lincoln got an annex before any of the other 61 CPS schools that are more crowded. The union called for a more open process in determining which schools are expanded.
Emanuel said he and CPS were doing all they could to improve schools, especially those that were popular, performing well and desirable enough for parents to want to send their kids to. He cited the additional building at Jones College Prep and the proposed expansion of Walter Payton College Prep.
He also pointed to upgrades at Raby High School in East Garfield Park and the upcoming construction of Southwest Elementary School.
"I've talked about modernizing our schools throughout the system," Emanuel said. "In fact, Lincoln is very crowded. And it's actually going to get more crowded."
The proposed annex, to be built on a playground, is designed to relieve some of that expected crowding. Emanuel also noted the enthusiastic response from Lincoln parents after the annex announcement on Monday. Some parents who did not support an annex said they weren't informed of the decision.
"We've met the requests of the parents at Lincoln," Emanuel added.
Emanuel did not suggest any ways of padding the CPS budget, which faced a $1 billion shortfall this year, but said, "If people have more resources, send them here. We'll build."