To meet the growing demand for competitive, high-quality academic options, Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett have announced that there will be a new selective enrollment high school in Chicago come SY 17-18.
Despite recent expansions at Jones and Walter Payton, two of the District’s ten selective enrollment high schools, the desire for highly-competitive schools far exceeds the District’s current capacity. In SY 13-14, more than 2,400 qualified students were denied access to these programs due simply to a lack of space. The new school, which Mayor Emanuel and CEO Byrd-Bennett have recommended be named for President Barack Obama, will add 1,200 new seats to the District’s selective enrollment pool.
“Year after year, too many of our students who have put in hard work are turned away because as a city we haven’t had the capacity to meet their capabilities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This important investment will help us fix that.”
The new school will be built on Chicago Park District property near Skinner North, a high-performing CPS elementary school. It will be supported by around $60 million in TIF funds and will welcome its inaugural freshmen class in the fall of 2017. Approximately 70 percent of the school’s seats will be made available to students citywide through the District’s selective enrollment process, with the remainder being filled through a neighborhood preference.
“I am pleased to join the Mayor and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in providing another high-quality education option for parents of CPS students from the Cabrini Green, Near North neighborhoods and citywide,” said 27th-Ward Alderman Walter Burnett. “We have seized an incredible opportunity to continue to invest in our future through education.”
Like existing selective enrollment high schools, this new school will likely draw students from all corners of the city and will offer a rigorous, highly-competitive experience. These schools have a long record of academic excellence, five of them recently ranked among the Top 10 high schools in Illinois by US News and World Report. These were Northside Prep (ranked #1 in the state), Jones, Walter Payton, Whitney Young, and Lane Technical High School.
“Our school community strives to help students develop themselves as leaders through a rigorous college-prep program that focuses on educating the whole person,” said Jones principal Paul Powers. “We were very excited to be recognized by US News as one of America’s best high schools and could not be prouder of our students and their outstanding achievements.”
The creation of a new selective enrollment high school is the latest in a series of steps taken to improve outcomes for Chicago’s children. Other initiatives have included the expansion of early childhood education, a Full School Day for all CPS students, and expanded access to IB and STEM programs, which provide students with the skills they will need to compete in a global, 21st-Century economy.
“All of Chicago’s children deserve a rigorous academic environment that is well suited to their individual needs and designed to prepare them for college and beyond,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “When a student has worked hard to make the grade, we need to do our part to provide them with the opportunities that will ensure they can live up to their full potential.”