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As Englewood continues its resurgence, Chicago Public Schools management will propose making a $75 million investment to create a state-of-the-art neighborhood high school. The new school will open in the fall of 2019 and attract area students by building on the surging academic progress in the area’s elementary schools. CPS will hold regular meetings with the community to hear feedback on key issues, including student transition, safety planning, naming the school, the academic programming and focus, and other critical issues.
CPS’ proposed investment comes after the Englewood Community Action Council formally requested the new school last month, and the merger of Harper, Hope, Robeson and TEAM Englewood high schools. CPS’ CEO will recommend that the district follow through on the CAC recommendation, including building the school at 6835 S. Normal Blvd, the current location of Robeson High School. The Englewood CAC held several community meetings and conducted a survey of more than 1,200 residents to determine a vision for a new high school in the neighborhood.
“Today we are investing in Englewood, as we have done for the past six years, but more importantly we are investing in the children of Englewood, their education, their hopes and their dreams,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Thanks to the strong input from residents and community leaders, soon Englewood's children will have a brand new 21st century high school that will help prepare them for success in our 21st century world.”
The Englewood community area’s high school student population is the sixth highest in Chicago, but 41 percent of them travel four or more miles to attend schools outside the community. More Englewood high schoolers leave their community to attend high school than any other community in Chicago, with only 11 percent of students attending neighborhood high schools in the community.
“The CPS mission is to provide every student in every neighborhood with top educational opportunities, and merging schools in Englewood will allow a comprehensive high school experience in a state-of-the-art building,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. “By building a modern neighborhood high school with excellent academic programming, we believe that this could quickly become one of the strongest high schools in the city.”
The first Information Session for public feedback will be held Wednesday, July 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Parker Elementary School, 6800 S. Stewart Ave. Experts from architectural design to curriculum development to sports and athletics will be present to answer questions and hear ideas.
“As we’ve heard from members of the community, every parent dreams of sending their child to a high quality schools, and this is the kind of high school that is truly a dream come true for many parents,” said Chief Education Officer Janice K. Jackson. “While we plan to build a modern and beautiful facility, the heart of this building will be the top-notch learning that happens in the classrooms that inspires lifelong passions. We look forward to working with the community to design the type of academic programming that will help Englewood students achieve their dreams.”
Ensuring student safety will be a key focus for CPS as it holds community conversations. CPS will develop a school safety approach similarly to its Safe Passage program – in close collaboration with members of the community.
“Nothing matters more than student safety, and families’ voices will be critical as we develop transition and school climate plans going forward,” said Jadine Chou, CPS’ chief of safety and security. “We’ve worked successfully with communities for years to make sure that all students can travel safely to and from school, and that they are in a supportive environment at school, and we will be committed to those promises in Englewood.”
Families of students who currently attend Harper, Hope, Robeson and TEAM Englewood will also be contacted in coming weeks to discuss their plans and the best options to meet their educational needs. It is expected that enrollment at these schools will proceed without changes next year.
CPS anticipates that the facilities will continue to serve the community, as Hope is co-located with KIPP Bloom College Prep and TEAM is co-located with Urban Prep Academy. Robeson would remain open during construction and CPS will work with the community on the best ways to repurpose the Harper site.
According to the Englewood CAC, it is a community-driven organization that was put in place to provide advice to CPS about ways to invest in improving education in the community. CACs operate in low-income communities to build a pipeline for feedback from parents, business leaders, non-profit organizations, Local School Councils and residents, among other members.
Englewood has become a hub for economic development and resurgence. Kennedy-King College has been revitalized and attracts talent for its world-class culinary program. In his first term, Mayor Emanuel brought a new early childhood learning facility to the community. Last year, he opened the doors to the new Whole Foods in Englewood, which has turned into a thriving community center. The store anchors Englewood Square, a 5.5 acre retail development that includes a Chipotle and Starbucks. Mayor Emanuel recently announced the Chicago Department of Fleet and Facility Management is relocating its headquarters and more than 200 employees to Englewood.
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