CPS approves University Village magnet school

Former Jefferson School slated to reopen this fall

01/26/2011 6:34 PM

By Ben Meyerson

7 Comments - Add Your Comment

Chicago Public Schools' Board of Education approved a plan Wednesday to open a new magnet school in University Village this coming fall, a move that came in response to months of protest from parents and community residents clamoring for more educational options in the neighborhood.

The board unanimously voted to open the new school in the former Jefferson School building at 1522 W. Fillmore Street.

It'll be called STEM Magnet School, named for its focus on science, technology, engineering and math. It's slated to open this September for kindergarten through third grade students. The school would add a grade each year, eventually growing to teach students through eighth grade.

Based on a timeline presented at a community meeting on the school earlier this month, the special application process for students hoping to go to the school would begin in March.

New leaders for the school would be hired between February and March, under that timeline, and improvements to the Jefferson campus would begin in February and run through August.

Still unclear is how the school's construction and the hiring of new teachers would be paid for. Funding for the school wasn't discussed at Wednesday's board meeting, CPS spokesman Frank Shuftan said, and would likely be addressed as the board determines its budget for the next school year.

However, the budget might not be voted on until summer, Shuftan said, by which point most of the improvements and hiring would have to be underway or finished.

Leslie Recht, 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti's schools liaison who spoke on his behalf at the meeting, said she didn't know how the school would be funded. But, she said, she didn't think it would get any tax increment financing dollars since it wasn't in a TIF district, though it sits just a few blocks away from the city's Roosevelt/Racine TIF's boundaries.

Regardless of how it gets funded, she said she was excited about the new school.

"I think it's going to be a great thing," Recht said. "This is going to be the first one of its kind in the city, this school with science, technology, engineering and math as its main pieces. This is going to be a very good school."

As a magnet school, it'll only take about 40 percent of its students from the neighborhood. The rest will be available for students from around the city. Recht said plans are brewing with CPS to create a plan for the neighborhood's other schools, including foundering Smyth Academy.

This story broke after Chicago Journal's Jan. 27 issue had already gone to print. For more on this story, check out the Feb. 3 issue of the Journal.

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By julya60608 from pilsen
Posted: 05/15/2011 3:44 PM

My daughter was accepted at STEM school and I'm still debating whether to accept the offer since she was also accepted at Disney magnet school. I believe STEM will be a great school but it will take time......any suggestions?

By All about schools from South Loop
Posted: 02/07/2011 3:13 PM

Schools should be a top priority for all of us. The more quality schools we can attract the better. It is time to focus on getting something done to make NTA a great community school!

By Nearwester from Little Italy
Posted: 02/07/2011 0:03 AM

Why do the families in the West Loop need access to another school when they have an open enrollment option at Skinner?? I just can't see why the West Loop community should be in the proximity lottery for STEM or Andrew Jackson unless they open enrollment at Skinner to those families on the south side of the Eisenhower that are within the mile and a half radius from Skinner.

By WestLooper from West Loop
Posted: 01/27/2011 11:13 PM

It is great news for UV and WestLoop parents and everyone who can benefit from this school. I'm excited to see how it grows. We've got a great thing going with the new Skinner, Andrew Jackson, and others.

By West Sider from North Lawndale
Posted: 01/27/2011 3:27 PM

Many of the residents who opposed the expansion of Andrew Jackson into this location are parents of kids who go to Andrew Jackson. Smacks of greed and elitism to me. Who cares about other kids as long as my kid is in a good school. Shame on you!!

By Wade from West
Posted: 01/27/2011 3:05 PM

This is a great opportunity for the city. I have been watching this issue from the sidelines and found it interesting that those who opposed this also opposed the Jackson Expansion, in which at least one opposition leader sends her child to Jackson. With that in mind, I ask what do you support then? You cannot speak with the "little guy" if you won't even send your own kids to school with them. Absolutely ridiculous...

By Tim R. from Near West
Posted: 01/27/2011 2:50 PM

What great news! Chicago very much so needed to get with this program and the location is perfect to provide central access for children to attend from all over the city.