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'Say No to Intrinsic' Petition Opposes Charter School in Lincoln Square

 Intrinsic's Belmont-Cragin campus. The charter school is proposing a second location in Lincoln Square.
Intrinsic's Belmont-Cragin campus. The charter school is proposing a second location in Lincoln Square.
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LINCOLN SQUARE — A petition opposing a proposed charter school in Lincoln Square has gained nearly 800 signatures in just two days.

"Say No to Intrinsic Charter School in Rosehill Cemetery" was posted June 29 to MoveOn.org.

Intrinsic Schools, which already operates a campus at 4540 W. Belmont Ave., announced in May that it is under contract to purchase a four-acre parcel within Rosehill Cemetery (part of a larger 11-acre tract for sale), situated on Western Avenue at Balmoral Avenue.

Its plan, pending zoning approval, is to build and open a school by fall 2016 that would eventually enroll 1,000 students in grades seven through 12.

At a public forum held in late May, members of the neighboring Bowmanville community expressed concerns not only about the effect Intrinsic would have on existing schools but what construction of a new building would mean for the cemetery grounds, which are a haven for wildlife.

Those same issues are echoed in the petition, which states: "Our neighborhood schools ... are experiencing a period of wonderful growth. ... At this time, our community is best served by investing in those schools."

Regarding the cemetery, the petition adds: "We want this urban sanctuary to stay intact ... and to honor the burial place of our friends, family members and those honorably killed in military action."

Intrinsic founder and principal Melissa Zaikos, herself a resident of Lincoln Square, said in May: "My general sense is the neighborhood would benefit from more schools. ... We just want to offer choices."

Among the comments posted by folks who've signed the online document:

"CPS does not need to be building more charter schools while it claims it has to lay off 1,400 employees, and devastate classroom resources with further cuts."

Another states: "Cemeteries are where people are laid to rest, not for kids to be used for profit."

The petition will be delivered to Ald. Pat O'Connor (40th), whose most recent communication to constituents regarding Intrinsic noted that "community input ... will not serve to approve or disapprove of the project itself," adding that the proposal "conforms to both the existing zoning and the covenant that runs with the land."

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