LITTLE VILLAGE — Parents and politicians in Little Village are working to build a new high school for Community Links students.
Teens at the high school — which does not have its own dedicated space — currently take classes inside rented rooms at a Little Village Boys & Girls Club, according to community leaders. The school offers an year-round program that allows its 130 students to graduate in three years.
Lunch is held inside Spry Elementary at 2400 S. Marshall Blvd., where Community Links students occasionally have access to an auditorium.
"It puts these high schoolers at a disadvantage when they don't have their own space," Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said Wednesday. "They can't plan their own activities or programming. They have to ask permission" from elementary school staff.
Cardenas joined state Rep. Silvana Tabares (21st) and roughly a dozen students and parents at a news conference Wednesday to unveil plans for a proposed Community Links building at 24th Street and California Avenue. (SEE PHOTOS BELOW)
Local activists worked with Mode Architects to design the two-story space that would house 300 to 500 students and cost anywhere from $16 to $20 million to build. In addition to classrooms and science labs, students could use an art lab, music room and media library.
Funding has not been secured.
There is currently no concrete plan or construction timeline associated with the proposed building.
But Cardenas and Tabares said they plan to petition city and state leaders in coming years to build what they call a necessary community space.
"What I'm hearing from parents, the problem is overcrowding," Tabares said. "You have students who are not eating lunch in the lunchroom. ... We need a design that meets the existing needs" of the Little Village community.
Cardenas noted that residents "are not asking you for a $90 million facility. ... They're not asking for anything glamorous."
He continued: "These kids should have their own space. They want an education. They want a building they can be proud of. ... We're not asking for a lot. We're asking just to be included. We're asking for inclusion in a system that, for the most part, forgets the Latino community."
Nestled on the Near West Side, Little Village is a densely populated and low-income neighborhood comprised mostly of Latino and immigrant families. According to enrollment data, roughly 47 percent of CPS students citywide are Latino.
"We are now the majority in the school system in this city, but we are last in receiving resources," Cardenas said.
He argued that setting aside CPS and state funding for a Community Links building would help prepare for Little Village enrollment trends. The addition of a parent and community resource room would help locals thrive, he said.