Update on Jones Prep plan
04/22/2009 12:00 PM
Contrary to prior re-ports, the Jones College Preparatory expansion plan is progressing — at least in terms of the physical building expected to be built just south of the current Jones structure.
Jones College Prep local school council president Tom Kubiak said in an interview that “things are moving behind the scenes as far as architecture and design” for the new building.
Chicago Public Schools spokesman Frank Shuftan confirmed in an e-mail message that CPS remains in “concept-level design for a replacement high school.” Shuftan did not return a follow-up phone call.
Late last year, Kubiak and the LSC announced that instead of building Jones a new gymnasium and multi-use center, as had been promised for years, CPS wanted to instead develop an entirely new school building with a larger capacity, an estimated $130 million project paid for by tax increment financing dollars and money from CPS. Jones currently enrolls around 750 students.
But a number of issues remain unresolved about the new Jones.
Kubiak said at a meeting Monday night that the Board of Education was considering two design templates: one would put up a structure with capacity for 900 students enrolled through CPS’s selective enrollment process.
The other would enroll 1,200 students, 900 of whom would enter Jones through selective enrollment with an additional 300 coming from the surrounding South Loop neighborhood.
“There has not been a hard and fast decision made on the neighborhood component,” Kubiak said.
But the working assumption on the LSC, however, is that CPS will choose the larger capacity option because the price difference between the 900- and 1,200-building school is not substantial, Kubiak said.
If a neighborhood component is added, it’s unclear were the attendance boundary would be drawn, and what, if any, criteria would be used to add South Loop students to the school.
Kubiak said he and Jones principal Joseph Powers hope to meet in the next couple of weeks with representatives from the Board of Education and Ald. Robert Fioretti’s office to discuss some of the outstanding issues.
Fioretti schools aide Leslie Recht said she had no additional new information, but that the 1,200-student school with a 300-student neighborhood component was what the alderman’s office was pushing for.
The Jones LSC has been holding fora after its regular meetings to discuss the expansion plan. Another is expected to be held in May.