Thursday, June 21, 2012

Debate Rages About High-Schools in the Sloop

If you have any interest in schools for our neighborhood, we highly suggest you read this article by Greg Hinz in  It take a look at the debate and delimmea with the neighborhoods high-school situation:
Nothing unites a community and makes people want to live there like a good school for the kids, particularly a high school. But in these days of very tight finances, what you want and what you can get often are two different things. 
Add in some stark socioeconomic differences plus a dash of good ol' Chicago politics and you get an idea of what's at stake in a revealing dispute over what kind of public schooling to offer in the fast-growing South Loop. 
On one side are Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd, and a group of constituents who want Chicago Public Schools to convert the old Jones College Prep high school on South State Street to a neighborhood school when the new controlled-enrollment Jones opens in the fall of 2014. 
On the other side is the Board of Education, which insists that there just aren't enough students in the South Loop and adjoining areas to warrant the expenditure. The board now plans to demolish the old Jones. 
The article goes onto to discuss some solutions that are being bandied about.  Nothing is obviously resolved, but it should be interesting.  One option Fioretti is throwing around is to rennovate the Old Jones Prep school and have it completely devoted to neighborhood kids.  But it doesn't sound like the school board is keen on that idea:
Renovating the 45-year-old Jones structure for a neighborhood high school would cost $18 million to $25 million, according to the board. Demolishing the school would cost $5 million to $10 million — meaning someone would have to come up with $10 million or so, not counting annual operating costs.
I must admit, it will be extremely difficult for anyone now to make a public case for not only building one new high school in one neighborhood, but spending a ton more to renovate a second high school in the same neighborhood.
Should be interesting.  What do you think?  Does the South Loop need a high-school solely devoted to the neighborhood?

(Hat tip: GL!)


twinkle twinkle said...

I think the MAJOR argument for making the old Jones Prep a Neighborhood school is the fact that, if you look at the location of the "neighborhood high school", for the area, at least Printers Row, it is NO WHERE NEAR the neighborhood! It's at 244 E PERSHING RD, which is at Pershing/40th. Anyway. I'm sure they won't keep it, but it sure would be nice for all the families in the area!

Chris said...

The amount of families with teenagers sitting in these condos in the Sloop is very small. I dont think the Sloop was intended or ever will be a "family" neighborhood. It is and will thrive being a place filled with young professionals, single people, students, in towns and people down sizing from the suburban homes moving back into the city when their kids are gone. No reason for them to keep the old Jones

TS said...

putting two different high schools next to each other, especially one that has a unique situation (i.e. Jones as selective enrollment) is a recipe for fights and conflict.

As some with more than a decade of experience in education and most of that in high schools in CPS, trust me that this "solution" will cause more trouble than it solves.

Sonja (Pippa) said...

The Sloop needs a high school. The change in the economy has changed the flight to the suburbs. They do realize that the primary school is bursting at the seams, right? Families are basically being forced to leave To give their children a viable high school.

Michael said...

Agree with Chris, the demographics of the neighborhood aren't there to support a neighborhood high school. And of those few h.s. age kids that do live in the neighborhood, their parents are going to send them to Lab or St. Ignatius if they can.

I say knock down the old Jones and use the opportunity to straighten out that God-awful State/Harrison intersection, with room left for a nice little park at the north end of the new Jones.

Finny said...

As a Sloop dad of one kid (and another on the way) I can tell you this is very important to the MANY families who live here. We are watching what happens with our schools very closely. We are debating buying a home to raise our kids in, but I just don't feel comfortable not knowing where they might have to go to school.

@Chris - While perhaps the Sloop wasn't intended to be a family neighborhood, don't pretend you know what it's going to look like in 10-15 years. 15 years ago you wouldn't even have gotten off the El at Roosevelt. Neighborhoods change. I'm not moving to the suburbs just because you don't like me walking down the street with my kids in my stroller. :)

Chris said...

Finny you believe families are gonna be cramming into cookie cutter condos? If they can afford big units suitable for a family in the sloop, chances are their kids wont be in the CPS system anyway. Where did I say I was offended by or didnt want it to be a family neighborhood? I just simply said its not. Neighborhoods change, however the way this area is constructed it simply is not practical for a large number of families to ever reside. Very few SFH or townhouses compaired to the number of condos and apartments. You may want to pack yourself and family in a small space but the great majority of people do not.

BRENDAN said...

Chris is absolutely right.

JC said...

Having good free schooling options has already kept our family in the South Loop. Without South Loop Elementary, we would already be gone. I agree that the majority of families feel the need to move out of an urban situation due to condo size, school options, etc. We don't know what will happen for our kids in 9 years, but I would hope there would be a better option than our neighborhood HS on Pershing. The old Jones site may not be the right place, but without something...we will have to move out of the city. A good HS in the Sloop could allow for families like mine to continue to be city families.

NKM said...

Building a school on the “old” Jones property is ridiculous. This neighborhood north of Roosevelt is growing to be the highest per capita of University students in the country and sits on prime real estate right outside of the Chicago Loop business district. The demographics of the neighborhood overwhelmingly support households WITHOUT high-school age students. Households south of Roosevelt are the ones pushing for a high school. That area should be classified as its own suburb, its not a city neighborhood. The area is zoned such to attract suburbanites who like to/need to drive everywhere. Of course, they would like a high school, but the old Jones High School is not the place. For $10M to $20M the “Prairie District” should build a high school south of Roosevelt where it would fit a suburban setting. North of Roosevelt, it is incredibly difficult for a family of high school aged kids to even find space beyond 1200 sq. ft. This means that a public high school will be bussing in kids from the Prairie District, not supporting the true locals. My wife and I purchased a 2000 sq. ft. condo in Printer’s Row and plan on raising our kids here until high school age and beyond. Yet, I would rather see that treacherous corner of Harrison and State cleaned up than see that old Jones High School remain. The neighborhood is modernizing. “Empty Nesters” will be pouring into this recently revitalized district to engage in the culture, the proximity to Chicago’s business district and to be amongst the vitality of University center. I don’t know who is stronger, the opposing Chicago school system or Fioretti and the Prairie District voices, but those who oppose the rehab of Jones High School need to start speaking up with a unified voice. If I start a petition, will you join?

VeronicaSawyer said...

I think it's cute that the person arguing that everything south of Roosevelt is basically a "suburb" and not really the South Loop but throws in that he/she owns 2000 square feet in Printer's Row. The demographics of the neighborhood have changed. There are lots of families here now and we will need a neighborhood high school in the next 5 to 10 years. If someone is bothered by the fact that their neighborhood includes Dearborn Park and Museum Park that's too bad, but the CPS and ward shouldn't have their priorities dictated by the people that live on two blocks of Dearborn St.