ENGLEWOOD — Englewood isn’t the only neighborhood competing for a new high school that officials have slated for the South Side.
Chinatown and Roseland have also been making a case to get the school, Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said at a Tuesday Resident Association of Greater Englewood meeting. The organization met at Hamilton Park Cultural Center, 513 W. 72nd St., to discuss the possibility of a brand new high school for the community.
CPS, on its most recent list of capital projects in the works, lists "New Southside High School Construction" — with a $75 million price tag attached. Details of that project — including a location — have not been revealed.
Although CPS officials haven’t shared any details, Sawyer told DNAinfo that all options have been discussed. That means that a current school could close, he said, although he wouldn’t want to see that happen. His ward includes Robeson, a low enrollment Level 3 School, which he acknowledged has had problems.
Although he would like a new school, he said, the decision will come down to who can benefit the most from a new school.
“We want to ensure that the entire community will be benefited,” Sawyer said. He also said the district should do all it can to "keep and retain all of our top students" and attempt to make all schools better.
He and some of his colleagues have been meeting with CPS officials for the past year. It’s still too early to say where the school will end up and what it would even look like, he said. All he knows is that it would be a state-of-the-art building.
The preliminary briefings by CPS have been “cordial” so far, Sawyer said.
At Tuesday's meeting, Megan Hougard, chief of schools for CPS Network 11, declined to answer any specific questions about the high school.
“The community planning process needs to drive this discussion,” she said.
She did say that despite a decline in population in the neighborhood, some elementary schools were seeing an increase of enrollment in students from outside the neighborhood choosing to attend Englewood schools. She said charter schools were not outdrawing neighborhood schools.
“Our schools are really working to grow every child,” Hougard said. “We have a lot to be proud of.”
Teamwork Englewood’s executive director Perry Gunn said his organization is ready to help community members who want to organize and strategize.
“If Englewood wants to be considered, we have to move quickly,” he said.
Resident Denise Dyer said the Greater Englewood Community Action Council sent a letter to CPS expressing its interest to have the school in Englewood. The Council will meet Jan. 26 at the Englewood police district, 1438 W. 63rd St., at 6 p.m.
Dyer has a granddaughter in seventh grade who is already looking at high schools with a science, technology, engineering and mathematics focus.
“We don’t have a STEM high school in Englewood so the only choice they have is to leave,” she said. “We will apply at Lindblom, but that’s it for the community. None of the other high schools have anything to offer.”
The community needs the new school, Dyer said.
Another Englewood resident, Karen Bynum, is concerned that schools may close to bring the new one.
“They should invest in the schools they have already,” she said. “If you’re going to build new buildings, then build new buildings, but don’t push the teachers out. Invest in those children and those teachers who are there.”
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