UNO school expansion on Board of Ed agenda

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • September 23, 2008 @ 4:39 PM

The Chicago Board of Education will consider a proposal by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) to add a school campus when it meets Wednesday at its monthly meeting.

The UNO Charter School Network, at 945 W. Washington Blvd., wants to open a new elementary campus in fall 2009 and a high school campus one year later at a school to be built at the intersection of South Homan Avenue and 51st Street in the Gage Park area on the South Side. UNO opened in 1984 with a mission of serving the city’s Hispanic residents.

The UNO Network has opened nine charter schools at six locations since 1998, including two elementary schools and a high school this year at Archer Heights, 4248 W. 47th St. If the Gage Park campus is approved, UNO’s capacity enrollment would grow to more than 5,500.

The elementary school, which would be named UNO Gage Park Campus, would serve 600 students in kindergarten through Grade 8. Academy High School would open in 2010, serving 150 students in grade 9, and then growing to 600 students in grades 9-12.

The Board of Education approved a five-year renewal with UNO in June.

Also Wednesday, the board is expected to approve a series of building renovations and repairs totaling $21 million. Of that, the biggest contracts proposed for adoption are $7.3 million to F.H. Paschen and S.N. Nielsen for renovations at Bradwell School and $6.3 million to Quantum Crossing, Inc., for renovations at Juarez High School.

The board is expected to approve financial amendments to previous agreements approved for turnaround school services at five schools by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL began with a turnaround project at Sherman Elementary two years ago, added Harvard Elementary in 2007, and this year added Orr Academy, Howe Elementary School and Morton Career Academy. AUSL’s work includes the hiring of new administrators, a new teaching staff and developing a new curriculum.

This year, the cost to CPS will be about $1.5 million. Much of AUSL’s work is actually financed through the Gates Foundation and other grants.

Wednesday’s board meeting is open to the public, and public comment is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m (sign-ups are from 8 to 9 a.m.). The regular meeting will commence at about 12:30 p.m., followed by an executive session closed to the public. Board of Education meetings are held at the CPS Central Office downtown, 125 S. Clark.


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