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Barack Obama High School Coming to Near North Side

By Quinn Ford | April 24, 2014 1:48pm | Updated on April 24, 2014 2:03pm
 A new selective-enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama will open in 2017, CPS officials said.
A new selective-enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama will open in 2017, CPS officials said.
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CHICAGO — A new selective-enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama is coming to the Near North Side, CPS officials announced Thursday.

Barack Obama College Preparatory High School, which will enroll 1,200 students, is planned to open for the 2017-18 school year near the former site of the Cabrini-Green public housing complex, CPS officials said.

The school's construction will be funded by $60 million in Tax Increment Financing funds and will be built on Chicago Park District property located at North Clybourn Avenue and North Larrabee Street. The site is near Skinner North Classical School, 640 West Scott St.

In an announcement Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the new high school would provide another high-quality option for the city's public school students.

"Year after year, too many of our students who have put in years of hard work are turned away because as a city we haven't had the capacity to meet their capability, and this important investment will help us fix that," Emanuel said in a news release.

The school, which will be the 11th selective-enrollment high school in the CPS system, will have an inaugural class of 300 students, CPS said. Students will be added each year. About 70 percent of the school's seats will be allotted via CPS's selective-enrollment admissions process. Student in the school's neighborhood will be given preference to fill the remaining seats.

Thursday's announcement comes after CPS announced plans to last year to expand nearby Walter Payton College Prep — located in the Old Town neighborhood — by adding 300 to 400 seats in the coming years. A controversial expansion of Jones College Prep in the South Loop last year will nearly double that school's capacity to 1,700 students.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the expansion of selective-enrollment seats was needed given the increased demand. About 16,440 students applied for roughly 3,200 seats in the district. This year, more than 2,400 students who qualified for admission to a selective-enrollment school were turned away, CPS officials said.

"All of Chicago's children deserve a rigorous academic environment that is well suited to their individual needs and designed to prepare them for college and beyond," Byrd-Bennett said. "When a student has worked hard to make the grade and excel, we need to do our part to provide them with opportunities that will ensure they can live up to and achieve their full potential."

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