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U. of C. Woodlawn Charter Finally Getting a Gym with $27.5M New School

By Sam Cholke | October 15, 2015 5:47am

When the new charter school building opens in 2017, it will have a bevy of resources for applying for college in a dedicated resource center. [University of Chicago]

WOODLAWN — The University of Chicago Woodlawn Charter School is on track for a February groundbreaking for a new school that will allow the school to grow by 100 students.

The school at 6420 S. University is passing through the final sign-offs by city planners to get 3.5 acres of city-owned land to build a $27.5 million new school at 1101 E. 63rd St.

For the last eight years, the charter school has called the CPS’s former Wadsworth Elementary School home, but has not had a full cafeteria, gym or other amenities for its 650 students in grades 6-12.

At the start of the 2017 school year, students will move one block north into a new three-story, 29,000-square-foot building designed by EC Purdy and Associates. The new building with its patterned gray brick façade will add more space for dance and the arts, and also launch the College Center.

“This is completely new and will have dedicated space for students to meet with college counselors and a resource center,” said Calmetta Coleman, a spokeswoman for the university. “It will be a hub for college access for [University of Chicago-Woodlawn] students and for the community.”

The school will have locker rooms for the first time and a football field and track and will add 100 new students, bringing total enrollment up to 750.

The school is more than 99 percent African American, and 83 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

On Tuesday, the Community Development Commission signed off on the plan and it heads next to the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday, the last step before City Council approves selling the land valued at $755,000 to the university for $1, according to a staff report from the Department of Planning and Development.

Work is expected to start in February with a goal of cutting the ribbon on the new school in August 2017, according to the university.

It remains unclear what will happen to the former Wadsworth building after the university’s charter leaves.

The Wadsworth students left in June 2013 and were combined with the students from Dumas Elementary School in the Dumas building at 6650 S. Ellis Ave. Several reports said the university was considering purchasing the Wadsworth building, but in March announced it would instead build a new building.

Representatives from Chicago Public Schools were not immediately able to say what would happen to the Wadsworth building currently used by the university.

When the new charter school building opens in 2017, it will have a bevy of resources for applying for college in a dedicated resource center.

It's unclear what will happen with the Wadsworth Elementary School building after the University of Chicago moves its charter school out in 2017. [DNAinfo/Sam Cholke]

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