CHICAGO (CBS) — A proposal to convert an elementary school into a new high school is pitting parents against each other, as well as against CPS.
The school in question is the National Teachers Academy in the South Loop.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker spoke to parents who were attending a community meeting Monday evening.
“Chinatown, the community has been requesting a new high school for over 40 years now,” said one parent, Cynthia Mui.
Now, CPS is finally proposing one — with a $10 million plan.
The plan is to convert the grade school into a high school. The proposal indicates that the new high school will serve 1,100 students from five communities, which include: South Loop, Bronzeville, Armour Square, Bridgeport and Chinatown.
Mui, who has two children who attend NTA, said she is suspicious of the timing and opposes the conversion.
“Are there any campaigns being funded? Who’s benefiting from this?”
CPS officials say it will be a gradual transition, and will accommodate current students. Future families, however, will have to look for other options.
“It’s just a lowdown thing for us because we made this school a part of our community” said Audrey Johnson, another parent.
Attorney John Jacoby represents families in the nearby Prairie district. He says a new high school is needed to keep parents from moving to the suburbs and from choosing private schools.
“The graduation rate is not good, it has discipline problems and it’s not an environment that I would subject my daughter to,” Jacoby said.
CPS officials say more than 90 percent of families in the area do not choose the neighborhood high schools. Still, some worry if the conversion will be big enough.
“680 eighth-graders who graduate every year from the surrounding areas — that’s one freshman class. You cannot fit 680 freshmen in a 1,000 total feet building,” said Elizabeth Greer, another parent.
Supporters of the conversion say if students outgrow this building, it will just force CPS to build a new high school.
CPS officials say parents will have ad update before the first day of school.