BRIGHTON PARK — Years of planning and contentious neighborhood discussions have now ended as the city's newest charter high school unveiled its gleaming new building in Brighton Park Friday.
City leaders, education officials, parents and students gathered in the gymnasium of Mansueto High School, 2911 W. 47th St., Friday morning for the grand opening of the Noble Network of Charter Schools' 17th high school campus in the city.
It is the charter network's first high school on the Southwest Side, and a passionate and at times fiery debate surrounded the proposal that was unveiled in 2015. Parents and neighbors rallied against the proposal at Gage Park High School, and students at nearby Kelly High School walked out in protest of the proposal, saying it could siphon off resources directed to their school.
"Parents of Chicago want a good option for their kids," Noble CEO Michael Milkie said. "We're so happy to provide another option for them."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked parents and neighbors for enduring the contentious political process so that their kids could benefit from better schools.
"Sometimes the political process can be quite frustrating," Emanuel said. "You made sure you had a high quality option for your children."
Mansueto High School actually opened last school year, but in a temporary location at 51st and Keeler. Its sprawling, modern campus was completed in time for this school year, and the building now holds freshman and sophomore classes.
An $18 million donation from Joe and Rika Mansueto — Joe founded the investment research firm Morningstar — largely funded the construction of the school.
Ald. Ed Burke (14th), whose support of the new school was key in getting it approved, said that investment is already paying off dividends for the community. He said a new health center will break ground near the school, as will a new McDonald's, which drew large cheers from the student body.
"They probably don't comprehend what their philanthropy meant for this community," Burke said. "The construction fences are up."
Mansueto High School's turf soccer field. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]