In the midst of a low-income area on Chicago's South
Side, an elementary school covering an entire city block is rising
above the one- and two-story homes and rental units that surround
It is the new Miles Davis Academy, 6730 S. Paulina, which is
scheduled to open in the fall for than 600 students in
pre-kindergarten through grade 8. When completed, the three-story
building will offer 100,000 square feet of space.
"It is going to be a gorgeous building," said Arne Duncan,
Chicago Public Schools chief.
Before it opens, though, the new Miles Davis will be the subject of the first in a series of public hearings on school closures and transformations -- some of them controversial.
Duncan said he does not expect much conflict at the Miles
Davis hearing, which will be held at 3
p.m. today at the CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark.
But there will be plenty of emotional fireworks
to follow in the 18 public hearings scheduled in upcoming days. A wide-ranging CPS proposal of consolidations and
"turnaround" school projects would affect hundreds of teachers and
more than 7,000 students. On Feb. 27, the school board is expected
to take action on most, if not all, of the proposals that affect 19
city schools, Davis among them.
CPS plans to close the old Miles Davis and Johns Middle Academy,
6936 S. Hermitage Ave., and move those children to the new Miles
Davis, a math and science magnet school with neighborhood attendance boundaries.
The new building is in deep contrast to the small homes
surrounding it, some of them boarded up. Nearly all of
the children in the neighborhood come from
low-income families. Just two blocks away is the current Miles
Davis Elementary, a two-story building constructed in 1927 that is
only big enough to hold classes for 306 kids in pre-kindergarten
through grade 3.
Also included in the CPS plans is the firing of teaching and
administrative staffs at Orr High School, 730 N. Pulaski, and its
two feeder elementary schools, Howe Elementary and Morton Career
Academy. The district wants to turn over management of those schools to Academy for
Urban School Leadership (AUSL).
Thursday, the AUSL announced it had
received a $10.3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation to help fund the "turnaround" project at Orr and its
feeder schools. AUSL would hire new staffs, train them and re-open the
schools this fall.
The hearing for the Orr High School proposal will be at 3 p.m.
Thursday, at the CPS Central Office, followed at 7 p.m. by
a hearing on Howe Elementary. The Morton Career Academy hearing
will be held at 3 p.m. Feb. 8.
Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood, identified as an
underperforming school and located just two blocks from Miles
Davis, is also slated to have its staff fired and be a turnaround
school. Its hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 11.
CPS public hearings
Here is the schedule for the Chicago Public Schools' public
hearings on proposed turnaround schools, consolidations and
relocations (all hearings at CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St.,
Board Chambers 5th floor unless otherwise noted):
- Feb. 4: Miles Davis and Johns Academy, 3-6 p.m.
- Feb. 6: Midway Academy, 3-6 p.m.; Abbott Elementary, 7-10
- Feb. 7: Orr Campus, 3-6 p.m.; Howe Elementary, 7-10 p.m.;
Midway Academy, 5-8 p.m., Hancock High School, 4034 W.
- Feb. 8: Morton Career Academy, 3-6 p.m.; Edison Regional Gifted
Center, 5-8 p.m., Edison Center, 6220 N. Olcott Ave.
- Feb. 9: Duprey Elementary, noon-3 p.m., 1405 N. Washtenaw
- Feb. 11: Fulton Elementary, 3-6 p.m.; Harper High School, 7-10
p.m.; Miles Davis and Johns Academy, 5-8 p.m., St. Andrews Temple,
1743 W. Marquette Rd.
- Feb. 13: Copernicus Elementary, 3-6 p.m.; Carver Middle School,
- Feb. 14: Gladstone Elementary, 3-6 p.m.; De La Cruz Elementary,
- Feb. 15: Irving Park Middle School, 3-6 p.m.; Anderson
Elementary, 7-10 p.m.
- Feb. 16: Gladstone Elementary, noon-3 p.m., 1231 S. Damen
CPS turnaround proposals
- Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood, 1,261 students.
- Fulton Elementary, 5300 S. Hermitage, 672 students.
- Copernicus Elementary, 6010 S. Throop, 496 students.
- Orr High School, 730 N. Pulaski Road, will be combined from
Mose Vines High School, EXCEL-Orr Academy and Applied Arts Science
and Technology Academy, total of 1,411 students.
- Howe Elementary, 720 No. Lorel, 696 students.
- Morton Career Academy, 431 N. Troy, 262 students.
- Gladstone Elementary, 1231 S. Damen, 287 students, pre-k
through grade 8. School would close, attendance boundary would be
reassigned to Smyth Magnet School, 1059 W. 13th and
Plamondon, 2642 W. 15th Place.
- Johns Middle Academy, 6936 S. Hermitage Ave., 308 students,
grades 4-8. One of two schools to be consolidated into new Miles
Davis, 6740 S. Paulina.
- Miles Davis Academy, 6723 S. Wood, 306 students, pre-k through
grade 3. Would be consolidated into new Miles Davis magnet school,
along with Johns Middle Academy students.
- Anderson Elementary, 1148 N. Honore St., 580 students, pre-k
through grade 8. School would eventually be phased out; new
students would attend Pritzker Elementary, 2009 W. Schiller
- Midway Academy, 5434 S. Lockwood Ave., 90 students, grades 2-8.
School would close, children would attend neighborhood
- Carver Middle School, 801 E. 133rd Pl., 244
students, grades 5-8. Would consolidate with Carver Primary, 901 E.
133rd Place, which is located next door.
- De La Cruz, 2317 W. 23rd Pl., 102 students, grades
7-8. Would be consolidated with Finkl Elementary, 2332 Western
- Abbott Elementary, 3630 S. Wells St., 99 students, pre-k
through grade 8. Would be consolidated with Graham Elementary, 4436
S. Union Ave.
- Irving Park Middle School, 3815 N. Kedvale Ave., 348 students,
grades 7-8. Would be phased out; new students in the fall would
attend Marshall Middle School, 3900 N. Lawndale Ave.
- Edison Regional Gifted Center, 6220 N. Olcott Ave., 274
students, pre-k through grade 8. Would be relocated to Albany Park
Multicultural Academy, 4929 N. Sawyer Ave., but would remain a
Regional Gifted Center.
- Roque De Duprey Elementary, 1405 N. Washtenaw Ave., 235
students, grades 1-8. Would be relocated to Von Humboldt
Elementary, 2620 W. Hirsch, one block away.
Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.