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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