Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett killed two birds with one new high school building, announcing plans yesterday to build a new selective-enrollment high school for School Year 2017-18 (SY17-18) that will be named the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
The first bird is to fill the continuing demand for "selective-enrollment" schools in Chicago. The second is a hat tip to President Barack Obama, and possibly a reminder that the Obama Library should be located here in Chicago.
The "selective enrollment" high school will be the city’s eleventh, and will be located on the North Side on the location of the former Cabrini Green housing projects, says the Chicago Public Schools. Mayor Emanuel announced that the city will be using $60 million in tax-increment financing money.
The eventual enrollment will be 1,200.
The enrollment will be phased-in, starting in the fall of 2017 with an inaugural freshman class of nearly 300 students and will add subsequent grade levels each year following. Approximately 70 percent of the school’s seats will be made available to students through the selective enrollment admissions process. The school will also establish a neighborhood preference for students to fill the remaining seats. This enrollment model has proven successful at Jones College Prep and Westinghouse College Prep.
According to the press release, Mayor Emanuel is fulfilling his pledge to provide more high-quality options for families across the city. "We must seize every opportunity to ensure our students receive a world-class, 21st century education and that they are able to take advantage of the academic opportunities they have earned," said Mayor Emanuel.
"Year after year, too many of our students who have put in years of hard work are turned away because as a city we haven’t had the capacity to meet their capability and this important investment will help us fix that," added Mayor Emanuel.
Selective enrollment schools are highly competitive and the demand from parents and students far exceeds the capacity. Applications for these schools grew 8 percent this school year with 16,440 students vying for one of approximately 3,200 seats throughout the district. As in years past, more than 2,400 students this year who qualified for admissions into a selective enrollment school were denied because there were not enough seats available.
"All of Chicago’s children deserve a rigorous academic environment that is well suited to their individual needs and designed to prepare them for college and beyond," said CEO Byrd-Bennett. "When a student has worked hard to make the grade and excel, we need to do our part to provide them with opportunities that will ensure they can live up to and achieve their full potential."
The new selective enrollment school announced today builds on Mayor Emanuel’s and CEO Byrd-Bennett’s plans to expand selective enrollment options throughout CPS. The recent expansion of Jones College Prep will accommodate an additional 800 students by SY16-17, raising the school’s total enrollment to 1,700. Similarly, Mayor Emanuel and CEO Byrd-Bennett announced plans last year to expand the nationally ranked Walter Payton College Prep by additional 300-400 students in coming years.
"I am pleased to join the Mayor and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett in providing another high-quality education option for parents of CPS students from the Cabrini Green, Near North neighborhoods and City-Wide," said Alderman Walter Burnett, 27th Ward. "We have seized an incredible opportunity to continue to invest in our future through education."
The school project will be funded through approximately $60 million in TIF funds and will be built on Chicago Park District property near Skinner North Classical School, a high-performing, Kindergarten through 8th grade elementary school. The expansion and renovation of Jones College Prep in the South Loop was made possible thanks to $115 million in TIF funds, part of $1.2 billion in TIF dollars committed to CPS to support building and improving local schools.
CPS - CPS to Add New Selective Enrollment High School