South Loop community interested in using Jones building for a new High School (guest post)
Here’s a guest post from HSObsessed, who btw, has a child in 8th grade this year, and if we butter her up, will hopefully keep us posted of their search process.
I learned on Alderman Bob Fioretti’s Twitter feed that there’s a new group in the south Loop working to try to establish a new neighborhood high school for kids living in and near the south Loop, to be housed in the current Jones College Prep building. JCP is getting a new facility nearby, which will be completed and ready for that school’s selectively enrolled freshmen in fall 2013.
The “Reuse Jones” group seems to have Ald. Fioretti’s support and they print his letter to Mayor Emanuel on their website www.reusejones.org
The website contains a few links to articles but doesn’t have a good statement of purpose of exactly what they want and why. From what I can surmise, they believe that there are enough families in the south and west Loop who would like to send their kids to CPS high schools, but they’re not thrilled with the current options of Phillips and Crane.
Here’s a link to the maps showing the boundaries of the neighborhood high schools that serve the Loop area currently, one for Streeterville. (Red schools are neighborhood schools; all the blue schools are high schools that have enrollment by application, lottery, etc.)
It looks like like Phillips is the neighborhood high school for nearly all the Loop south and east of the Chicago River, with a huge boundary, some of which goes all the way down to 59th Street. Phillips can hold up to 2100 students but only has 663 enrolled, with 91% low income. The average ACT score is 13.4. Only 2.5% of graduates are considered eligible to enroll in selective colleges. (This is determined by a metric using each student’s GPA combined with their ACT. If a student has a 3.0 GPA and scores 18 or higher on the ACT, they are considered eligible to enroll in a selective college, so in my opinion, the bar is set pretty low.)
Crane is the neighborhood high school for those in the west loop, west of the Chicago River, between 1800 south and Kinzie on the north. Crane was going to be shut down by CPS earlier this year but community members rallied to keep it open, and it will now be a health sciences high school. It has space for up to 2300 students with 2000 ideal, but currently enrolls 638 students, 94% low income. They post a 14.0 average ACT score, and 3.7% of graduates are considered eligible for selective colleges.
Since we’re looking at the Loop area, Wells is the high school for the “new East Side”, which is northeast of Michigan and Randolph, as well as for kids in Streeterville and RIver North. Wells ideally enrolls 1400 but has 630 students, 94% low income, posting average ACTs of 14.9, and 7.2% are eligible for selective colleges.
So what do you think about the group’s argument that a new neighborhood high school is needed in the Loop? None of the existing nabe high schools is doing spectacular in terms of test scores, but they’re likely enrolling kids from lower performing K-8 schools. Those “college eligible” scores are pretty dismal. (To give you a comparison, 36.6% of Lake View High School’s graduates are considered to be college eligible.) None of the existing high schools are very close to the Loop itself, with Phillips in particular at 3900 south, meaning a potential commute of more than five miles for a kid to get to his “neighborhood” high school.
However, I’m wondering whether there truly enough kids currently in 7th/6th grade who not only live in the theoretical boundaries of this new school, but who would in 2-3 years actually attend it. It’s one thing to “think” your kid will go to a certain school, but then another reality to turn down an offer from a more-established school and commit to the new school. Given the very, very low usage rates of the current high schools, I’m sure CPS is loathe to pay for yet another set of salaries for a principal, AVP, teachers, etc. in addition to the various operational costs of the facility. I think the SaveJones group will have to come up with hard demographic data about where current high schoolers within the boundary attend to convince CPS.
Entry filed under: High school.