ENGLEWOOD — The future of six now-empty neighborhood schools closed last year as part of a citywide effort to shutter underutilized facilities will be the focus of a retreat Friday taken by local officials and activists.
"These buildings have so much potential, and if used wisely could improve neighborhoods greatly," said John Paul Jones, president Sustainable Englewood Initiatives.
The retreat, which runs from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Lindblom Math & Science Academy, 6130 S. Wolcott Ave., was organized by the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, known as RAGE.
Chicago Public Schools closed 50 schools citywide in what it called a cost-saving measure.
The meeting will focus on what to do with six area shuttered elementary school buildings: Elihu Yale, 7025 S. Princeton Ave; Daniel Wentworth, 6950 S. Sangamon St; Benjamin Mays, 838 W. Marquette Road; Arna Bontemps, 1241 W. 58th St; Charles Earle, 6151 S. Hermitage Ave; and Granville Woods Math & Science Academy, 6206 S. Racine Ave.
The meeting will include Englewood residents, community leaders, elected officials, educators, and real estate professionals.
RAGE President Asiaha Butler said the group will share at Friday's meeting feedback it has collected about the future of the buildings.
"Some suggested uses for the buildings are a recreational center, a theater and social service center," said Butler.
Lindblom Principal Alan Mather said he plans to attend and is preparing a proposal to present to CPS to use the Earle building to open an elementary school version of Lindblom.
Yale, whose alumni include Academy Award-winning actress and Englewood-native Jennifer Hudson, is one school Butler said she would possibly like to use as a model for the remaining schools.
"The school has a beautiful campus with a playground," said Butler. "Before it closed, renovations were completed inside. Maybe we could start with one school first before other schools are redeveloped."
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), whose ward includes Yale, said he wants to see the school used for something that would benefit the community.
Joel Hood, a spokesman for CPS, was unavailable to comment about the Friday meeting.
In February, a task force set up by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said "community outreach and engagement is critical to ensuring the repurposing of buildings will be of the most benefit to residents."
The advisory committee said some of the buildings could be reoccupied this year by CPS or sister agencies needing more room. Others will be eventually be open for bidding by other parties or will be demolished.