Chicago School Site
Chicago School Site
Chicago School Site
Chicago School Site
Chicago School Site

Chicago board moves forward with plans for $120 million high school on city's Near South Side

Sept. 29, 2022
The school would serve students in Chinatown and adjacent city neighborhoods, but opponents question whether the project is needed.

Despite declining student enrollment and lingering concerns from neighborhood groups, the Chicago school board has approved a plan to purchase land and take the first steps toward building a proposed $120 million high school on the city's Near South Side.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the board voted 4 to 3 to buy property for $10.3 million. The district would give the site to the Chicago Housing Authority, and in exchange the housing authority would lease the school district the site of a former housing project, where a high school would be built.

The board also approved authorizing the Public Building Commission to perform project planning and design services at a cost of $5 million.

The high school would be paid for with $50 million in state funding that has been re-appropriated a few times, and $70 million previously announced for a Near West Side high school that was never built. The lease between the housing authority and the school district would be for 55 years, with the option of two 20-year extensions.

The proposal came before the board in June, but it was tabled after several members expressed concerns.

Chinatown leaders say the school, which would serve students in the South Loop, Chinatown and Bridgeport neighborhoods, is desperately needed in an area that has seen significant growth.

Local groups and elected officials who want to see existing schools supported instead of a new one built — or who think public or affordable housing is the proper use for the land in question — have opposed the project.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot supports plans for the new school. She says the “folks at Chinatown have been begging for a neighborhood high school for quite some time now” and that data suggested it wouldn’t diminish enrollment at nearby existing secondary schools.

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