Five new magnet elementary schools proposed

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • March 12, 2008 @ 1:25 PM

Five new magnet elementary schools will open next fall if the Board of Education approves a plan announced Tuesday by Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public Schools officials.

Two of the schools, Disney II and LaSalle II, would move into school buildings that are scheduled to be closed under a  consolidation plan approved by the board last month.

A third school, the new Miles Davis, would replace two elementary schools on the South Side that are not magnet schools.

"If we're to keep our schools moving forward, we need to make every school in every neighborhood a high-quality school," Daley said. "All across the city, our neighborhood schools are getting stronger."

Daley made the announcements at Kershaw Elementary, at 6450 S. Lowe Ave., which would convert to a magnet school with a focus on the International Baccalaureate program.

Also in the proposal is the addition of a 13th gifted center, the John Coonley Regional Gifted Center, which would begin admitting students in fall 2009.

The board will consider the proposals at its next regularly scheduled meeting March 27. If approved, parents would have until April 25 to apply for spots for their children at the five magnet schools. The CPS says the applications will be on its website March 27 and available at the schools.

Magnet schools will be filled from a citywide lottery and from the neighborhood attendance areas. CPS officials expect the majority of students attending the magnets to be from those neighborhoods.

"These will be very sought-after new schools in neighborhoods that haven't always had access to these kinds of high-quality education options," said CPS chief Arne Duncan.

While the new Miles Davis will be a magnet school focusing on engineering, current students at Miles Davis, at 6723 S. Wood, and Johns Middle Academy at 6936 S. Hermitage, are guaranteed spots at the new Miles Davis in fall 2008.

The teachers, however, will not follow them to the new school, a decision that generated emotional protests at public hearings.

Unlike the magnet schools, the Coonley Regional Gifted Center, which would move into Coonley Elementary at 4046 N. Leavitt, would require testing as part of the admission process. Applications for the 2009-2010 school year will be accepted beginning next fall, school officials say.

If approved, the additions would bring the number of magnet schools in the district to 52 and the number of regional gifted centers to 13.

Although the proposal calls for International Baccalaureate (IB) programs added to two magnet schools, it did not address adding IB Middle Years programs at elementary schools on the far north side near Senn High School.

One of the goals in a strategic plan presented Monday at Senn called for IB programs to be added to the curriculum of elementary schools feeding into Senn.

"I believe this is one of the best-kept secrets in Edgewater. This program is a gem," says Helen Murtaugh, a teacher for 35 years at Senn.

The proposed magnets

  • Miles Davis Magnet Academy, 6730 S. Paulina Ave.: The school is under currently under construction and will offer the district's first engineering program. Pre-k through grade 8, the magnet program begins in kindergarten.
  • Disney II Magnet School, 3815 N. Kedvale Ave.: The school will be located at Irving Park Middle School, which will be phased out at the end of the current school year. The magnet school will offer a fine and performing arts, and technology integration curriculum. Literacy and math will be taught through arts, such a dance and technology. Pre-k through grade 2, with one new grade being added each year until grade 8 is included.
  • LaSalle II Magnet School, 1148 N. Honore St.: The school will be located at the current Anderson Elementary, which will be phased out at the end of the current school year. It will provide a world language program. Kindergarten through grade 2, with one new grade added each year until it is pre-k through grade 8.
  • Kershaw Magnet School, 6450 S. Lowe Ave.: An existing neighborhood elementary school that would be converted into a magnet offering the International Baccalaureate Primary Years program for kindergarten through grade 5 and International Baccalaureate Middle Years program for grades 6 through 8. Pre-k through grade 8.
  • Oscar Mayer Magnet School, 2250 N. Clifton Ave.: An existing neighborhood elementary school that would be converted into a magnet offering the Montessori Program for pre-kindgarten through grade 5 and International Baccalaureate Middle Years program for grades 6 through 8. The Montessori program would initially serve pre-k through grade 1, then add one grade level each year until the program runs through grade 5.
  • Coonley Regional Gifted Center, 4046 N. Leavitt: An existing neighborhood elementary school that would receive a new regional gifted center for academically advanced students. Testing is required for all admissions. Initially, only kindergarten and grade 1 would be served; one grade would be added each year until grade 8 is served. Coonley Elementary would remain.

Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.

Discuss