Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Opinions on Neighborhood High-School Debate Continue

The dust isn't settling on the debate around a neighborhood high-school.

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):
Ald. Fioretti (via 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. 
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!)


Anonymous said...

I am Pro-Charter schools so I fully support this decision

Union NO said...

99.9% of the people complaining about this don't even have children.

Chi-townChinatown Resident said...

ABSOLUTELY a NEED for the community! Thank you Alderman Fioretti for seeing, understanding and pushing forth on this effort. As the mother of a 7th grader, it is a GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT with CPS, the Mayor and fellow Elected Officials who do not see this need - Where are their heads??

Anonymous said...

Chi Chinatown res--

You cant just snap your fingers and get a high school....the city has no MONEY and the teachers Union's greedy paws have taken even more money from the city----

Please people think before you post. This idiocy is hurting my brain.

Jim in the Sloop said...

Can anyone explain why a building that was so outmoded it needed to be torn down and replace can suddenly be repurposed for another High School. Why are we buildng the a Jones instead of rehabbing and expanding the existing one if the old one still has life left in it??

Anonymous said...

What people need to understand is that WE have the TIF Money that is supposed to fund this type of infrastructure. Good schools are good for property values of people who use the school and the surounding neighborhood, even if you don't have kids.

What is happening are two things, #1 - The Mayor is declaring TIF Surplus the last 2-3 years and is taking our Near South TIF money and using it to pay off City of Chicago budget holes (which is kind of illegal), and #2 he is 'Porting' Near South TIF unds for projects in other areas not benefiting our neighborhood fully, while we get jack shit for our $10K - $15K in property taxes.

As well, the Near South residents are paying for schools we are not benefitting from yet, like NAtional Teachers Academy, and until recently, South Loop School.

Additionally, South Loop residents through TIF funds, have paid for the restoration of Jones in 1997, are paying now for the $150MM for the new Jones, and will get stuck paying for the Jones repurposing if it happens. We should get something for our tax money...

Chi-TownChinatown Resident said...

For the "Anonymous" who choose to hide their name yet comment on other post perhaps you should practice what you preach "Please people think before you post. This idiocy is hurting my brain" and refer to http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2012/january/mayor_emanuel_touts660millioninvestmentinschoolinfrastructure.html

and ask the Mayor how he obtained $660 million investment in the CPS Capital Program/School Infrastructure... Hmmm where & how did that come about? BTW - it was not just about the money, but about the conditions.. What do you do for a living? What are your benefits & when was the last time you received a raise???

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of complaining over a school. Do the smart thing and move your camp out to the N or NW Burbs. There you will find the best and richest public HS districts in the state. Nothing in the city will ever come close due to facility size and funding issues. Even private schools like Jones cannot offer facilities or cash excess like schools in D211 or D214.
A great example is one from my own past. I graduated from a school in one of those two districts, it will remain unnamed. During my senior year I was a student aid for several of the Tech classes. Three weeks before the end of the year the division head came to me with several tech and tool catalogs and told me to find $30,000.00 worth of stuff to order. That division head signed off on the order and just like that 30K was spent. I was told we had to spend the money or next years budget would be reduced due to excess. Funny how public city schools cannot even pay their teachers, while out in the burbs, the teacher parking spaces are full of high end luxury cars. I for one will be returning to the NW burbs when my kids are ready for school.

BTW, I am only knocking public city HS. I graduated from Columbia and believe Colleges are a perfect fit in the city.

Reality is full of harsh facts.