CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office Thursday morning confirmed that President Barack Obama's name is coming off a proposed high school on the Near North Side.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools were backing off their plans to name the city's 11th selective-enrollment high school after Obama because of a district policy that says buildings can only be named after dead people.
Ted Cox with the latest in a series of setbacks for the proposed Obama Prep School:
The mayor's press office Thursday issued a statement confirming the report.
"Over the last few months, my team has listened to questions and concerns from the community, ranging from location of the building to the naming of the school," Emanuel said in the statement. "We take that community input seriously, which is why — as we continue to look for a thoughtful way to honor President Obama — we will look for other possible names for this future school."
Emanuel and CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced plans in April for the school at Stanton Park, near the intersection of Halsted and Division streets. It would be funded with $60 million in Tax Increment Finance district money. Proposed enrollment was set at 1,200, with the first students to enter in fall 2017.
Yet their proposed Obama College Prep hit a series of snags. The Emanuel administration acknowledged in April that the concept was not fully developed and was put together with a "communication gap," without input from local residents or Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th).
In May, CPS made allowances to admit neighborhood students to the school, announcing a plan to have 30 percent of enrollment, or about 120 students a year, come from the area immediately around the school.
In June, Burnett revealed that the proposed site of the school, set for 618 W. Scott St., could yet be shifted. Critics complained it was too close to Payton College Prep, at 1034 N. Wells St.
The Chicago Teachers Union, which has clashed frequently with the Emanuel administration, actually cheered Thursday's announcement and Emanuel's apparent willingness to respond to public qualms about the school, beginning with the name.
"I never thought that was appropriate," said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. "If they're coming to their senses on that, I'd hope they'd come to their senses on the question of where they're building it." He suggested a South Side location.
The mayoral campaign of challenger Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd), however, suggested it was just another Emanuel misstep.
"We should be looking for ways to improve Chicago schools and give teachers the tools they need to be great educators, rather than erase bad headlines," said Fioretti's senior strategist Michael Kolenc.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: