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Closed CPS Schools Could be Sold, as Panel Shapes Building Recommendations

By  Josh McGhee and Alex Parker  | February 8, 2014 8:53am 

 The Chicago High School for the Arts will takeover the Lafayette Elementary School building.
The Chicago High School for the Arts will takeover the Lafayette Elementary School building.
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Flickr/Brule Laker

CHICAGO — The city is looking to sell the majority of schools that were shuttered during last spring's historic school closings, officials said Friday, but it may still find uses for some of the buildings.

The Chicago High School for the Arts, for instance, will make Lafayette Elementary its permanent home after reports surfaced months ago calling the move "a done deal."

City officials laid out their plans Friday afternoon while announcing recommendations for the repurposing of schools shuttered during last spring's school closings. An advisory group made of community and civic leaders proposed the recommendations.

Lafayette Elementary, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., was one of nine schools considered as the new home for ChiArts after the elementary school was shuttered along with 49 other schools last May.

"ChiArts will create another high-quality education option for families in the Humboldt Park community as well as across the city," said Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th).

The city also announced the Department of Fleet and Facility Management would take over the former King Elementary School, 740 S Campbell Ave. John Fiske Elementary is also temporarily housing community health programs for the Woodlawn Children's Promise Community.

Friday's announcement said the plan for closed schools would fall into three categories: those that could be immediately repurposed, like Lafayette Elementary; those that could be reused by community groups "and other interested parties" through competitive bids; and those that can be developed with a "revitalization partner," which would "assume responsibility of the building to create a plan for stronger options."

The "majority" of the schools will be opened for public bidding beginning this year, the city said. CPS will administer the process, which will include proposals on how organizations would use the shuttered properties in addition to the bidding price, a statement said.

However, a spokesman said, it a buyer can't be found, some buildings could be leased to a tenant. In 2012, CPS put 24 buildings and three parcels of land up for sale. Three buildings sold, and four others went under contract, but have yet to close, said CPS spokesman Joel Hood.

The Board of Education must approve the repurposing of each building, the city said.

City officials pledged in May none of the closed buildings would house charter schools.