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Alternative H.S. Hopes to Open in Orthodox Synagogue in West Rogers Park

 Congregation KINS of West Rogers Park.
Congregation KINS of West Rogers Park.
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Congregation K.I.N.S.

WEST ROGERS PARK — Ombudsman Chicago, an operator of alternative high schools, has abandoned plans to open a new school on Howard Street and instead has been eyeing classrooms in a prominent Orthodox synagogue to the west, an official said.

Sue Fila, regional vice president of operations for Ombudsman Educational Services, which operates two other alternative high schools that work with Chicago Public Schools students, said community opposition to the potential Howard location forced the organization to look elsewhere.

It found an "alternative" location at Congregation KINS, 2800 W. North Shore Ave.

If Ombudsman can gain support from the community and alderman, the school plans to enroll about 300 students and offer classes in two shifts, morning and afternoon.

"We hope that the community is going to be open to us being there and serving a real need all around Chicago," Fila said. "There are a lot of kids who have dropped out or who are struggling in the traditional schools — and those are the students we’re trying to help."

Fila said the school would rent eight classrooms and use "general assembly" areas for group activities.

Last year, the Chicago Board of Education voted to allow Ombudsman to open additional campuses to serve as many as 1,200 students — tuition free — as part of a CPS effort to target struggling students and dropouts.

Lev Katz, president of Congregation KINS, said in a letter to neighbors "that a program such as this will enhance our neighborhood by offering an education and an opportunity to students who otherwise might be without hope."

In a letter to residents, Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th) said she would host a community meeting about the plans at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the synagogue.

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