We've recently received numerous emails and comments from readers who have continued to voice displeasure with the Mayor's recent announcement to double enrollment at the current Jones College Prep instead of utilizing the old building for a neighborhood only program.
Yesterday a reader posted an opinion piece by current 2nd Ward Alderman, Bob Fioretti (via Chicago Sun-Times):
Any neighborhood that seeks stability, safety and enhanced recreational resources needs a high school — a public high school open to all. It’s the one amenity that the 2nd ward lacks. This is the chief reason I have fought over the last five years to keep the old Jones building from being torn down. As the central city area (including the South Loop, Near West Side and Chinatown) has blossomed over the past decade, we’ve gained all the other basics — grocery stores, cafes, pharmacies, banks. We’ve got new L stops and new parks, but no neighborhood high school. Middle-class families have been moving to the central city area for three decades now.
Ald. Fioretti (via Sun Times)
But 2010 Census data indicate that many leave as their children approach school age. And they head for the ’burbs, taking a chunk of our tax base with them. That’s why I had hoped the old Jones College Prep building could become a neighborhood high school.He ends with a compelling paragraph:
If we want middle-class families to stay, let’s make sure they have the same menu choices as other neighborhoods enjoy. This can only encourage more families to settle in our area and create added stability and assurance that long term, their educational and social needs can be met in their chosen neighborhood.
This viewpoint isn't unique. South Loop resident and activist, Blagica Bottigliero, posted this on her blog about the current high-school situation:
I, along with the Alderman and other community activists learned that we had a building that was at risk of demolition. It was to be torn down and replaced with a brand new, selective enrollment public high school next door. We saw this opportunity to build a case for not only saving the building, but turning it into a neighborhood high school, serving multiple communities on the Near South Side of the city (think Soldier Field/Chinatown/Bronzeville areas).
We did everything CPS asked us to do. We found the data. We found the money. We found the community support. We did everything possible to petition for making the building a neighborhood addition. And we lost. The building was saved, but the neighborhood component was not. Instead, Mayor Emanuel decided to hold a press conference and announce the merging of the two buildings and increasing the number of citywide, selective enrollment seats. The Mayor also went on to say that adding more selective enrollment seats will keep families in the city. I don't agree. This action confirmed a few things for me:
- the City doesn't seem to care about neighborhood schools and building community
- the City and CPS doesn't seem to want to involve the very community leaders who worked tireless for one cause
- the City and CPS continue to put more support and money into charter schools
Will this public outcry mean anything for our neighborhood? Only time will tell, but the fervor doesn't seem to be dying down.
(Hat tip: BB!)