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Does Chicago’s Near South Side need a new $120 million high school?

Chicago Sun-Times Education This Week
Education This Week is our weekly recap of the biggest news in education affecting the Chicago area, Illinois, the region and the nation. Today’s edition was written by Nader Issa, the Sun-Times’ education beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter here.

Good morning!
We’ve written a ton in this newsletter about the proposed Near South Side high school that advocates have spent years fighting for, through scrapped plans and criticism.
Well, the $120 million project is coming to a vote today, with Chicago Public Schools officials asking the Board of Education to approve its $70 million share of the school.
Ahead of the vote, my colleagues Lauren FitzPatrick of the Sun-Times and Sarah Karp of WBEZ examined a pretty important question: Does Chicago even need this school?
Until yesterday, the district had provided few details about the proposal — not even basic information such as the location, attendance boundaries or the city’s analysis of the effects that the school would have on a school system whose enrollment has been shrinking.
But CPS put the proposed new high school into its capital budget nonetheless — with little public engagement, no land secured at a proposed site and big questions about who would attend the school.
The district is expected to present its case later today — beyond clamor for a school from the area — on whether Chinatown, the South Loop and Bridgeport’s needs justify spending so much of the district’s resources on a new building amid plummeting enrollment citywide. Some residents have also worried about the harm that may come to neighboring schools.
Grace Chan McKibben, an advocate for the new school and head of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, acknowledged it’s a complicated problem.
“It’s difficult to advocate for the needs of one community and balance the needs of surrounding communities,” she said. “Because Chicago is so segregated, and life in Chicago is so highly regionalized.”
Check out our story below, along with the rest of our top articles of the past week. And be sure to keep an eye out on our Sun-Times Education homepage for coverage of this afternoon’s school board meeting.
Until next week,
Nader Issa, Sun-Times education reporter
Got a question you’d like me to look into? Respond to this email or send an email to and your question may be answered in an upcoming newsletter!
Does Chicago’s Near South Side need a new $120 million high school?
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Nader Issa

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