“What I was interested in was what I heard from the community, having a middle school in the building,” Burns said. “What made the most sense was to move the kids in the academic center over to Canter.”
The academic center at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave. is a selective program that allows a group of 135 seventh- and eighth-graders to attend Kenwood and take high school-level classes.
Chicago Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Tom Tyrrell said CPS would provide the necessary improvements to Canter if the plan goes forward.
“We’re going to put whatever we need to into that building so it’s good to go,” Tyrrell said.
Burns’ plan calls for Kenwood to take a year to plan how to use the Canter building, which can house up to 390 students, and then move in before the 2016 school year.
CPS announced in 2013 it would close Canter because it was underutilized, with only 228 students in the building at 4959 S. Blackstone Ave.
Burns said after talking to members of the community, his plan seemed to be a win for all involved: The Canter building remains in use and dedicated to middle school students and some of the crowding at Kenwood is relieved.
Kenwood is expected to enroll 1,750 students next year in a building designed for 1,646 students.
Principal Greg Jones said he’s thinking about what programs and elective classes could effectively be taught in the building 60 yards from the high school campus.
“When we were offered to move into the space, I thought about serving more kids,” Jones said.
Reaction from the community at a Monday night meeting at the school was mixed.
Most approved of the idea as something worth investigating, but were hesitant that most of the gains from shutting down a open-enrollment middle school would go to the students of a selective-enrollment program.
Deb Hass, co-chairwoman of the Hyde Park Community Action Council's strategic planning committee, questioned how Burns vetted his plan before coming to the community.
Hass and others on the community action council, which was initially formed out of groups working on how Hyde Park schools would adjust to the Canter closing, said Burns never presented the plan to the body.
Burns declined to say what community members he consulted before presenting the plan.
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