Chicago school board is ready to buy property and exchange land for a new high school

Chicago Public Schools is set to buy property on the Near South Side for $10.3 million, laying the groundwork to build a controversial new high school.

The decision to go ahead with the proposed $120 million high school, which would serve the South Loop and Chinatown, comes as the city grapples with another year of declining enrollment. Dozens of high schools have so few students that it is difficult to offer extracurricular activities.

On Wednesday, members of the Chicago Board of Education will vote on purchasing nearly two acres at 23rd Street and Wabash Avenue, as part of a land swap with the Chicago Housing Authority for the proposed school site at 2450 S. State Street, according to the agenda of the meeting. The CHA board has already approved a plan to lease the State Street property to the district in exchange for deed to Parcels 23 and Wabash.

The board will also vote on whether to spend an additional $5 million in capital funds on planning, pre-design, and design services for the proposed high school.

The project has been in the works for a while, but community residents and some board members have said the district was shoehorning the proposed high school and leaving neighbors out of the process.

Last spring, the district released plans for the proposed Near South Side high school as part of the broader capital budget. Officials budgeted $70 million for the project and said the state would put up $50 million for the new campus.

The proposed plan was set for a vote in June but was dropped from the agenda at the last minute.

See also  Big Players Like FTX Should Step In And Help Crypto Recover

“I want to take a little more time to answer the questions that exist in the community about this proposal and our partnership with CHA,” CPS Executive Director Pedro Martinez said at the time.

Dwayne Truss, one of the board members who criticized the plan and likely would have voted against it, has since been replaced by a mayoral ally and former Ald. Michael Scott Jr. Truss’ term on the board expired, but he was set to serve another term.

Prior to the July meeting, the mayor also named two new members: Sulema Medrano Novak, a trial attorney, and Paige Ponder, a former CPS employee, as replacements for other outgoing board members.

Following his expulsion, Truss said opposition to the high school and the mayor’s decision not to reappoint him to the board seemed connected.

The idea of ​​a high school for the Near South Side has been floated for years. An earlier plan would have converted the National Teachers Academy, which is one block from the proposed site, from an elementary school to a high school. But in 2018, a judge blocked the school district from moving forward with the plan after NTA parents filed a lawsuit.

During the June board meeting, board president Miguel del Valle acknowledged other members’ concerns, including issues around turnout, but said the district “can’t walk away” from the state’s $50 million. .

Price remains a concern for some board members. The last time the district built a new high school, it cost $85 million. That project, the Englewood STEM High School, was initially expected to cost $75 million. It also led to the closure of four nearby high schools with low enrollment levels.

See also  Crypto Analyst - IT Online

Board vice president Sendhil Revuluri said in June that he wasn’t sure why a new school was on the table, especially in the face of persistent enrollment declines. In the last decade, the city’s public schools have lost more than 75,000 students and updated enrollment figures are expected to be released Wednesday showing another year of declines.

Mauricio Peña is a reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago and covers K-12 schools. Contact Mauricio at [email protected].

Leave a Comment