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Efforts to open Chinatown high school get boost from new alderperson

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,
Remember that Chinatown high school idea that caused an uproar among National Teachers Academy families a few years back?
The proposal was to close NTA, a highly rated elementary school, and convert it into a high school serving the broader South Loop and Near South Side area. The district eventually — and stunningly — backtracked on its plan after a Cook County judge issued a temporary order blocking the move.
Well the idea for a new high school for that community isn’t dead. It got another lifeline a couple years ago when the state legislature set aside $50 million in a new capital budget to build a Chinatown high school. And last week the City Council’s newest member gave the project another boost. Nicole Lee, Chicago’s first Chinese American and Asian American alderperson, said she’ll push for the idea to come to fruition despite its challenges.
“CPS and the city — there’s plenty of will there. The reality of it — this needle that has to be threaded — is on the execution. There’s not a whole lot of land and available space to sort of build new or convert. It’s a very complex challenge,” she told my colleague Fran Spielman.
The project is still millions short, and like Lee noted, there isn’t a ton of available or affordable land to make it happen. CPS said last week it still supports creating a Near South Side high school. But this is a new administration under Pedro Martinez — it was Janice Jackson’s plan to convert NTA — who has committed to extensively studying every community in the district and evaluating potential changes thoroughly. So for now, this idea remains just that — an idea — without much progress of late.
Read more about that issue below, along with our other top stories of the week about LSC elections and a proposal by the union representing teachers at the City Colleges of Chicago.
Until next week,
Nader Issa, Sun-Times education reporter
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Nader Issa

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