Seven elementary school proposals unveiled in South Chicago

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Last year, members of a transition advisory council in South Chicago created a wish list for new schools in their community, including features such as student mentoring and a strong literacy program. Most of all, though, the council wanted to see proposals for a high-quality elementary or middle school. Tuesday night, all of the seven new school proposals unveiled at a standing-room-only community meeting were for elementary schools. 

Last year, members of a transition advisory council in South Chicago created a wish list for new schools in their community, including features such as student mentoring and a strong literacy program. Most of all, though, the council wanted to see proposals for a high-quality elementary or middle school, which council members hoped would reach youngsters early on and help stem the dropout tide.

They didn’t get their wish, and the council ended up selecting EPIC Academy, a high school slated to open this fall.

Tuesday night, however, all of the seven new school proposals unveiled at a standing-room-only community meeting were for elementary schools.  The seven school proposals are the most submitted for any of the 11 communities that will begin the vetting process at forums taking place this week under the latest round of Renaissance 2010. Citywide, 32 new schools have been proposed by current and existing school operators.

The new South Chicago school will share a facility with Thorpe Elementary at 8914 S Buffalo Ave.

Parents and other residents quizzed school operators about their approach to such issues as increasing parent involvement. Most of the discussion focused on the need for bilingual, Spanish-speaking teachers and how the proposed schools would serve the English-language learners in the heavily Latino, working class neighborhood.

Parents also expressed their support for a longer school day and an extended academic year, common features among charters and other new schools across the city. Cynthia Butler, parent of a student at Thorpe Elementary and a member of the South Chicago TAC, stressed that the more time students spend in school and off the streets, the better.

School operators whose initial proposals are selected by the advisory council and CPS officials will be invited to submit full proposals by Aug. 10.

The 7 proposed schools in South Chicago are:

  • LEARN Charter: LEARN currently operates three campuses in North Lawndale and East Garfield Park.
  • Leadership Prep Academy: Leadership is modeled after Talman Elementary in Gage Park, which serves a large Spanish-speaking student population. 
  • South Loop III: A third branch of South Loop Elementary (a second branch, the South Shore Fine Arts Academy, is slated to open this fall). 
  • Brilliance Academy of Technology: A middle school that will focus on using technology to personalize learning. The school intends to supply each of its students with a laptop.
  • Southside Montessori School: An elementary school that would feature multi-age classrooms and other characteristics of Montessori programs.
  • South Chicago Preparatory Academy: An elementary school modeled after Frazier Preparatory Academy in North Lawndale. The school will include an extensive focus on the arts and humanities.
  • Vision Academy for the Arts: An elementary school with a fine arts focus that aims to prepare students for EPIC Academy.