CPS Releases Draft Neighborhood High School Boundaries for Proposed Near South High School at National Teachers Academy
08 January 2018
New Boundaries for Proposed Neighborhood High School to Serve Near South Community Would Create Diverse School Community and Expand Continuum of High Quality School Options
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, January 8, 2018
CHICAGO - Today, Chicago Public Schools released its draft, preliminary enrollment boundaries for the proposed neighborhood high school at National Teachers Academy (NTA), which would provide the Near South area with a continuum of high quality neighborhood schools from Pre-K through 12th grade. The draft boundaries serve as part of the overall Near South proposal to provide greater access to South Loop Elementary and gradually convert NTA to a high quality neighborhood high school over time.
CPS released the draft enrollment boundary following extensive engagement with community leaders and the Near South Community Leadership Steering Committee. The district’s conversations with community leaders and stakeholders informed the draft boundaries released today, and the district will gather input from the broader community during the public meetings and hearings scheduled to discuss the Near South proposal.
“If approved by the Board of Education, this proposal would create one of the most diverse school communities in the city and, for the first time, provide Near South families with high quality neighborhood school options from their first days of Pre-K until they are heading off to college,” said CPS Acting CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “The draft boundary is the product of extensive community engagement to best meet the needs of area families, and we look forward to receiving the community’s feedback on this proposal.”
The Near South community has several high quality elementary schools, but the area has lacked a neighborhood high school in the immediate area. Currently, only 3 percent of current high school students in the draft enrollment boundaries for the proposed high school attend their designated neighborhood high school and, as a result, 69 percent of current high school students in the draft enrollment boundaries travel more than three miles to attend high school. Introducing a high quality, neighborhood high school option close to home would create a continuum of high quality options for Near South students from Pre-K through 12th grade.
In addition to the neighborhood boundary, CPS is also proposing a preference enrollment boundary, which would allow students living directly outside the neighborhood boundary to have preference to attend the school if additional seats are not occupied by students in the neighborhood boundary. This would provide additional quality high school options and opportunities for students in nearby communities and help foster diversity in the school.
“Combining a guaranteed neighborhood boundary with a preference boundary for nearby families will help ensure area students have access to the high quality high school they deserve,” said Ald. Pat Dowell. “The community has played an important role in shaping this proposal, and we now have a plan that would create a much-needed neighborhood high school and provide quality neighborhood school options for students at all grade levels.”
“This is a great opportunity to create a quality neighborhood high school for an area that has been asking for a local option,” said Ald. Danny Solis.
“All of our kids deserve access to a high quality high school in their community,” said Pastor Earl Grandberry of True Rock Ministries. “If this plan is approved, students from the North Bronzeville area will no longer have to travel far outside the community to reach their dream school.”
“For decades, Chinatown families have sought a nearby high quality high school that all of our children can easily access,” said David Wu, Education Committee Chair for the Coalition for A Better Chinese American Community. “This proposal would finally make that a reality.”
“A quality neighborhood high school near the South Loop would provide families with the peace of mind of knowing they have guaranteed access to a great high school near home – regardless of which schools they are selected to attend,” said Jennifer Rakstad, South Loop Elementary Parent and Near South Steering Committee Member. “This proposal would provide all of our kids with guaranteed access to a nearby quality high school home while strengthening South Loop Elementary by opening the school to more families.”
Proposed Boundary Details
The proposed neighborhood high school boundary will encompass the entire boundaries of the following elementary schools:
- John B Drake Elementary School
- John Charles Haines Elementary School
- Robert Healy Elementary School
- National Teachers Elementary Academy***
- South Loop Elementary School
- James Ward Elementary School
***Note: all current NTA students will be guaranteed a seat at the new high school regardless of whether or not they live in the school’s enrollment boundary.
The larger proposed preference boundary will encompass the boundaries of the following elementary schools:
- Phillip D Armour Elementary School
- Charles N Holden Elementary School
- John J Pershing Elementary School
A link to the draft, preliminary boundary map can be found here.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
In May 2017, in response to community requests to strengthen educational options in the Near South area and relieve overcrowding, CPS introduced a preliminary framework to increase high quality neighborhood options by expanding the boundaries of South Loop Elementary School and gradually converting NTA to a neighborhood high school.
With a new facility under construction to relieve overcrowding at South Loop Elementary, CPS has proposed to expand South Loop’s boundaries south to include the entire NTA boundary, which would expand access to South Loop’s new, state-of-the-art school facility and create one of the most racially and economically diverse schools in the city. In addition, expanding South Loop’s boundaries seeks to right a historical wrong in the Near South area by including students who were previously excluded from South Loop. As CPS noted in a letter to Near South families earlier this year: “Years ago, when South Loop Elementary School was built, boundaries were drawn that excluded and separated low-income black children from their peers. This was wrong then, and it is wrong now, and this recommendation will right a historical wrong.”
Additionally, gradually converting NTA to a high school seeks to increase high quality neighborhood high school seats in the Near South area. Current high school students in the Near South area have very few nearby high school options, and families often turn to options far outside of the area.
On December 1, 2017, following months of community engagement, CPS formally announced the proposal to expand the boundaries of South Loop and gradually convert NTA to a neighborhood high school. As part of this proposal, CPS will invest at least $5 million in capital funds to support the high school facility conversion. In addition, based on feedback from the community and recommendations from the Near South Community Leadership Steering Committee, CPS will provide an additional $3.5 million in transition supports in the coming years, should the Board of Education vote to approve the proposed action.
Dates for the upcoming meetings to discuss the Near South proposal can be found at www.cps.edu/transitions.
Chicago Public Schools serves 371,000 students in 646 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.