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Walter Gresham, CPS 'Turnaround' School, to Get $2.6M in Renovations

 Walter Gresham Elementary School, 8524 S. Green St., is to receive $2.6 million in renovations by September, which follows $7.04 million spent on renovations in 2013.
Walter Gresham Elementary School, 8524 S. Green St., is to receive $2.6 million in renovations by September, which follows $7.04 million spent on renovations in 2013.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

AUBURN GRESHAM — Nearly $6 million in renovations at several South Side schools — including $2.6 million at Walter Gresham Elementary School, which will be run by an outside group next year — are scheduled to be completed by September as part of Chicago Public Schools' new construction budget.

The money will largely go to install air conditioning at several schools in Auburn Gresham, Chatham and Englewood.

The new money for Walter Gresham, 8524 S. Green St., comes as the district has turned over control of the school to a non-profit organization as part of a "turnaround" process approved last month. The Academy of Urban School Leadership will assume management and the school's current staff — from the principal to security guards — will need to reapply for their jobs.

CPS' 2015 construction budget outlines renovations that will be made "to refresh the condition of the facility in order to further the sense of transition taking place amongst the leadership and to compliment the new school identity. [And] minimal cosmetic repairs will be provided to improve surfaces such as floors, walls and ceilings."

It comes on top of the $7.04 million CPS spent last year renovating Gresham in anticipation that the school would share the building with a charter school — an arrangement which never took place.

Gresham Principal Diedrus Brown was highly critical of the turnaround and criticized the district for not investing in the school sooner before turning it over to AUSL. She complained that the district should have spent more money on educators to help improve the school without resorting to replacing the current staff.

CPS officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Other schools in Auburn Gresham that will receive renovations include:

• Fort Dearborn Elementary, 9025 S. Throop St., which will receive 900,000 for chimney repairs;

• Kellogg Elementary, 9241 S. Leavitt St., and Barbara Sizemore Academy, 6936 S. Hermitage Ave., will get $390,000 to install air conditioning units in every classroom;

• and Rudyard Kipling Elementary, 9315 S. Lowe Ave., will get $287,000 for two play lots.

Chatham schools will receive $1.5 million in renovations, including:

• $1.2 million for AC at Burnside Elementary, 650 E. 91st Place; Harold Washington Elementary, 9130 S. University St.; and Gillespie Elementary, 9301 S. State St.

• $250,000 for a new science lab at Pirie Fine Arts and Academic center, 650 E. 85th St.

In Englewood, William Harper High School, 6520 S. Woods St., will receive $610,000 for air conditioning.

Bass Elementary, 1140 W. 66th St., will receive $2.9 million for exterior renovations, such as new windows, but that work is not scheduled to be completed until 2017.

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