CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools leaders planned to hold the first of two community meetings Wednesday night to replace four Englewood neighborhood high schools with a new state-of-the-art facility.
Parents, students, and teachers have been invited to weigh in at two public meetings on the plan for an $85 million high school to open in 2019. It would replace Hope, Harper, Robeson, and TEAM Englewood high schools.
The district has said all four schools are under-enrolled, and the money saved by closing them will be used to finance the new school.
The first public meeting on the district’s plan was scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Kennedy-King College. The second meeting was set for the evening of Jan. 17 at the Hamilton Park fieldhouse.
Interim CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said the new school would help Englewood thrive.
“Our elementary schools in Englewood have STEM programming. They’re Level One and One Plus schools. Kids are doing amazing things. But the fact still remains that 89 percent of those students leave their community to go and attend another school. That speaks volumes,” she said.
Many parents and teachers have organized protests of the school closing plan since it was first announced last year, in part because the four existing schools would be closed at the end of this school year, and the new school would not open until a year later. Current students at the existing schools also would be transferred to schools outside of Englewood, and the new school would open with a freshmen-only class.
CPS has proposed to invest $14 million to help students at the four existing schools transition to new schools – including Bogan, CVS, Gage Park, and Phillips high schools.
Jackson acknowledged the community concerns over the weekend.
“I know that it takes tough decisions in order to get here,” she said. “At the end of the day, our job, the job of the adults in this room is to give children a fighting chance; and this new building, nothing says fighting chance more than this new building.”
The Chicago Teachers Union has said the plan to close the four existing high schools in Englewood violates the teachers’ contract. The union has filed a grievance in an attempt to block the school closings.