GRAND BOULEVARD — Supporters hoping to keep Dyett Academic Center open rallied at the school Tuesday after presenting a plan to revive the school to David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education.
“They’re not getting this school,” said Jitu Brown, the community representative on the Dyett Local School Council and an organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. “We do have a plan for this school that has been developed over two years of work.”
Supporters of Dyett, which will be phased out at the end of the 2015 school year, got a glimpse of the plan calling for the school to be reoriented around green technology.
The plan calls for Chicago Public Schools to keep the high school open and build on its existing partnership with the Chicago Botanic Gardens, which runs an urban agriculture and farm stand program at the school. The new focus on green technology would be paired with the school’s program of restorative justice, in which students help negotiate and resolve conflict among their peers.
On Tuesday afternoon, Brown and other Dyett boosters took presented the plan to Vitale.
“We didn’t expect him to make commitments,” Brown said of the hour-long meeting with Vitale and his staff.
Brown and the others in the meeting said Vitale praised the plan as excellent, but questioned where CPS would get the students and resources to pull it off.
"Board President David Vitale met with members of the Kenwood Oakland Community organization on their proposal around Dyett High School," said Joel Hood, a spokesman for CPS. "CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett and CPS board members are always interested to hear feedback from the community to ensure we are providing quality education options to our students."
According to those in the meeting, Vitale said the next step was to get the support of Ald. Will Burns (4th).
CPS announced in 2012 that Dyett would be phased out because of its poor academic performance, despite claims from advocates that the school was quickly making gains.
Many supporters of the school fear it will be converted to a charter school.
The school at 555 E. 51st St. is now down to 77 students, with many taking classes like art and gym online because the school’s resources have been stripped in preparation for its closure.
Supporters are hoping to sell their plan to the Board of Education and CPS in time to get a new freshman class in next year, when the school’s enrollment is likely to dip to less than 40 seniors.
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