DOWNTOWN — Mayor Rahm Emanuel admitted Wednesday that he erred in his decision to name a new selective prep high school after President Barack Obama.
"In my rush to honor our favorite son, I made a mistake," Emanuel said at an unrelated press conference Wednesday.
"I heard the community, and it's not gonna be named after the president."
Emanuel said that he will likely try to name a library after the president, saying: "My goal is to have a library named after him in the city of Chicago."
Emanuel and CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett had announced plans in April to build Barack Obama College Prep 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.
But last week, officials confirmed that the city had dropped Obama's name from the school. They said they did so because of a district policy that says buildings can only be named after dead people.
Emanuel said Wednesday the high school would likely remain in the area, although he wasn't specific. Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. said in June that the proposed site of the school at 618 W. Scott St., could be shifted but he expected it to remain in his ward. Critics have complained it was too close to Payton College Prep, at 1034 N. Wells St.
"We're gonna continue to meet the needs of the city, all the students, and probably in that area, because that's where the resources are," Emanuel said Wednesday.
The new changes come after 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 Burnett (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.
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