CPS to consider six new schools

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • March 25, 2008 @ 3:55 PM
Six new schools, including five magnet schools, would open next fall if Chicago board of education members approve a recommendation by schools chief Arne Duncan.

The proposal, to be presented at tomorrow's regular board meeting, stands in stark contrast to the events of last month, when board members voted to close four schools, consolidate four, and fire the teaching staffs from eight other schools under a sweeping plan designed to "turnaround"  the city's low performing schools.

The proposal includes a grant of $10.1 million from the U.S. Department of Education's Magnet Schools Assistance Program to help fund the opening and staffing of the magnet schools.

If approved, applications for the magnet schools would be accepted beginning Thursday. The deadline for application is April 25. The application forms will be on the CPS website, www.cps.k12.il.us.

Mayor Richard M. Daley joined CPS officials in announcing the magnet proposals two weeks ago.

"There's nothing more important to me than giving our city a school system that gives every child the same opportunity to reach their potential and succeed in life," Daley says.

Wednesday's board meeting is open to the public, and public comment is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Speakers must sign up between 8 and 9 a.m. The regular meeting follows at about 12:30 p.m., followed by a closed executive session.

Board of Education meetings are held at the CPS Central Office at 125 S. Clark St.

Two of the magnet schools would move into neighborhood schools that the board agreed in February to close at the end of the 2007-08 school year due to declining enrollments.

The LaSalle II Magnet School, specializing in a world language program for students, would move into the current Anderson Elementary at 1148 N. Honore St.

Disney II Magnet School, with an emphasis on fine and performing arts and technology, would move into the current Irving Park Middle School at 3815 N. Kedvale Ave.

A third school, the Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy, under construction at 6730 S. Paulina, would replace the current Miles Davis Elementary at 6723 S. Wood, which is scheduled to close in June.

The new Miles Davis will offer the CPS' first children's engineering program.

Oscar Mayer Magnet School at 2250 N. Clifton Ave., offering Montessori and International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years programs, and Kershaw Magnet School at 6450 S. Lowe Ave., also offering IB programs, would be developed in existing elementary school buildings.

The IB curriculum, in place in 100 countries, includes instruction in language, math, science, humanities, technology, arts and physical education with an emphasis on cultural awareness and communication.

Also up for approval is the establishment of Burroughs II Elementary School at 1852 S. Albany, which would open in the fall for 162 children in kindergarten through grade 2, eventually adding grades 3 through 8.

The new school, at a cost of about $1.6 million, is part of the Renaissance 2010 plan.

The board will also consider five-year extensions of the L.E.A.R.N. Charter School at 1132 S. Homan Ave.; Perspectives Charter School at 601 S. LaSalle St.; Noble Street Charter School, with multiple locations; and the University of Chicago Charter School Corp.

Board members are also expected to approve the 2008-09 school year, which would begin Sept. 2 and end June 12 for regular 10-month schools.

CPS Board of Education meeting

  • When: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday
  • Where: CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark.
  • Public sign-up: 8-9 a.m.

The proposed magnets

  • Miles Davis Magnet Academy, 6730 S. Paulina Ave.: The school is 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 housed at Irving Park Middle School, which will be phased out at the end of the  school year. The magnet school will offer 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 housed at Anderson Elementary, which will be phased out at the end of the 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 Programme for kindergarten through grade 5 and International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme 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 Programme 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.

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

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