Chicago wants to convert elementary to high school for South Loop neighborhood

June 7, 2017
Converting National Teachers Academy campus would provide needed high school capacity, but parents at the elementary don't want to lose their school.

Chicago Public Schools officials want to convert an elementary school into a high school that would serve the South Loop and Chinatown neighborhoods.

DNAinfo Chicago reports that the proposal calls for transforming the National Teachers Academy elementary school campus to a high school.

Converting National Teachers Academy would cost between $5 million and $10 million, a fraction of the $75 million a new high school would cost to build, says Janice Jackson, the district's chief education officer.

Parents living in the South Loop have clamored for years for a new high school, but parents of National Teachers Academy students came to a public forum about the proposed changes and told district officials that their school is performing well and should be saved.

"Why would you look at this school and say you want to dismantle it?" says Hannah El-Amin, a National Teachers Academy parent. "This is a school that should be modeled."

Jackson says district officials have to deal with limited resources as they prioritize facility decisions.

"We don’t have the additional dollars to build a brand new high school every time there is a lack of quality seats in an area," Jackson says. "It’s our responsibility to look at our portfolio of schools with creativity and sometimes sacrifice to create some balance."

A converted National Teachers Academy could accommodate about 1,100 students.

The elementary school opened in 2002 and is managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit that manages 30 other district schools.

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