August 8, 2013
Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett attended the opening of the new Back of the Yards high school, which will include a rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The City of Chicago is adding IB Diploma Programs to 10 additional high schools, with at least one in each CPS region, to increase access to quality education options.
“For too long, the Back of the Yards community did not have a neighborhood high school and parents had no choice but to send their children to schools all over the City,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “That educational vacuum was unacceptable, which is why we invested in this new high school that will feature a wall-to-wall IB program and help put our children on the path to success in the classroom and in life.”
A recent study by the University of Chicago Consortium of School Research showed that IB students are 50 percent more likely to attend a highly-selective college than their peers who did not participate in the IB program.
"The addition of an enriching and innovative academic institution like Back of the Yards College Prep marks an exciting new chapter for this community that will help prepare future generations of Chicago’s students for scholastic and professional success," said CEO Byrd-Bennett.
In a first of its kind collaboration, the Chicago Public Library and Chicago Public Schools have combined resources and created a full-service, public library for the community inside the school. The library will offer neighborhood children access to early literacy programs, and CPS students will have the opportunity to mentor younger children and gain community service hours within their school building.
Designed as a community campus, the high school will include independent entrances for the library and athletic wing, as well as storage spaces for the Chicago Park District. In addition, this building was designed to achieve a Silver rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Schools Rating System.
The three-story school will have space for 1,200 students and offer the following:
- 212,285 Square Feet of Space
- 26 Standard Academic Classrooms
- 5 Computer Labs
- 6 Science Labs
- 2 Visual Arts Classrooms
- 2 Performing Arts Classrooms
- Gymnasium/Natatorium with 6-Lane Pool
- Multipurpose Room/Athletic Studio
- Fitness/Weight room
- Turf Field
- Softball Diamond with Grass Outfield
- 2 Tennis Courts
The newly completed Back of the Yards Wall-to-Wall IB High School and Community Library will open to its first class of ninth grade students and the community at large on August 26th.
The investment in Back of the Yards is on the heels of other recent investments the Mayor has made in education by cutting almost $700 million from the central office budget. To date, over $36 million has been committed to invest in early education including today’s opening of a new early education center that will serve the Englewood and Back of the Yard communities and will offer wraparound services, parent engagement support, and mental health programs. Also, starting this school year, for the first time ever, the full, 7 hour day of kindergarten will be available for every single CPS student.
“Today, we aren’t just cutting a ribbon for a new state of the art building – today we are a celebrating a path to success for our children, from cradle to college to career,” Mayor Emanuel said.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.