The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Kenwood Academic Center's Move Into Canter Praised by Rahm, Byrd-Bennett

By Sam Cholke | July 23, 2014 5:54am
 City and CPS officials presented a proposal to move Kenwood Academy's academic center into Canter Middle School as a done deal on Tuesday.
City and CPS officials presented a proposal to move Kenwood Academy's academic center into Canter Middle School as a done deal on Tuesday.
View Full Caption
DNAInfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — A proposal for Kenwood Academy to take over the shuttered Canter Middle School is a done deal a little more than a month after first being presented to the public as an option.

On Tuesday Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett praised the plan to move Kenwood’s seventh- and eighth-grade academic center students into the neighboring Canter building.

“I support the proposal from the alderman and the community to expand Kenwood Academy to offer more students the opportunity to attend a high-quality neighborhood school and allow Kenwood to grow to its full potential,” said Byrd-Bennett, adding that the community came together to make the proposal.

On Tuesday, community groups pushed back, saying the plan was not yet reviewed or supported by any education groups in Hyde Park or Kenwood since it was first proposed by Ald. Will Burns (4th) and CPS officials on June 16.

“As far as I know there were no community-wide meetings to discuss the repurposing of the Canter building — that is, no meetings in which various ideas were entertained, discussed, etc.,” said Joy Clendenning, a parent representative on the Kenwood Academy Local School Council.

The proposal has not appeared on the agenda of the Kenwood council or the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Action Council, a CPS-sanctioned body specifically tasked with presenting the opinion of the community on long-term school actions.

Both bodies asked to review the proposal before it was finalized.

"We were told in mid-June that this particular proposal was still in the planning stages, and that there would be time and opportunity for in-depth community input, and for additional seats at the table to help plan — to our knowledge, this did not formally occur," said Denise Hill and LaKeisha Hamilton, co-chairwomen of the community action council.

Burns has said repeatedly the plan has broad support in the community but has declined to specify which groups have reviewed the plan.

He did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Tuesday.

Lars Weborg, director of policy for the 4th Ward, said there were no public meetings on the plan after it was first proposed last month and all subsequent discussions have been within the school.

“Principal [Gregory] Jones discussed the proposal, at length, with members of his staff, the academic center committee, members of the LSC, CPS and the mayor’s office,” Weborg said.

Juliana Stratton, chairwoman of the local school countil, said the proposal has not been presented at any council meeting she has attended.

Before the proposal goes forward, the Chicago Board of Education must still approve it.

Board President David Vitale said at a June 25 hearing that the board would look positively on the plan after Burns said that the plan had broad community support and would benefit the neighborhood by expanding the academic center and putting the Canter building back into use.

No group has come out against the plan either, which would expand the academic center by an additional 250 students and provide additional space for the hight school, which has struggled with overcrowding in recent years.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: