From its founding, C4C has been diligently working to obtain guaranteed access to high quality public primary and secondary education for our community. Its current emphasis is to obtain a high school, since access to quality secondary schools in our community and in Chicago, in general, is much more difficult to obtain than it is for primary education. Recently, CPS announced a new neighborhood plan for Jones College Prep. Beginning in Fall 2013, 25% of the seats at Jones College Prep will be allocated for new high quality Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in pre-engineering and pre-law. This is only 75 seats per grade and neighborhood children who live within a very large proximity boundary will get an opportunity to apply for these selective enrollment seats.
The Jones College Prep preference boundary roughly runs from Grand Avenue on the north to Ashland Ave on the west, 26th street on the south, and east to Lake Michigan. It is an enormous boundary that covers much of the near west and east sides, Chinatown, Pilsen, and Roosevelt Square. In 2012 there were 1,293 children between the ages of 14 and 17 residing just within the South Loop Elementary School, the John M. Smyth Elementary School, the Skinner West Elementary School, and Washington Irving attendance boundaries. The population this age within the Jones College Prep preference boundary is certainly larger. Furthermore, the neighborhood children will have to meet the required criteria for selective enrollment high school admission. Despite the flaws, the Jones College Prep preference boundary is a small step in a positive direction.
C4C is currently working on an additional plan for a community high school. Our goal is to realize a community school concept that draws children from across the city, accommodates children who live within our service boundaries, and accommodates children who come to the many terrific magnet, gifted and classical programs located within our local elementary schools. To that end, C4C has met with Board President David Vitale and many other high level officials at CPS to discuss our vision for a community high school. We have also carefully analyzed data from the 2010 US Census to determine how many school age children live within our service areas and how many children we would need to accommodate in a community high school. Surprisingly, CPS doesn’t use Census data for planning, so C4C has taken on the task of forecasting the next 10 years of high school enrollment from our service area. Given the large tracts of vacant land in our community and in the South Loop that can be developed, careful public education planning is important to attract families to our area of the city.