Roosevelt Square, and public education update

Connecting4Communities, and the West Central Association have had two recent, very productive meetings with 28th Ward Alderman, Jason Ervin, and executive leadership from CPS to discuss increasing access to high quality public secondary education in our area of the city. We also recently met with 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett.

C4C, and the WCA formed a committee tasked with increasing access to public secondary education in our area of Chicago. A representative from the West Loop Community Organization, who is also a parent, serves on it, as do a number of other parents in our community, some of whom have experience as former CPS teachers or administrators. We are presently vetting two possible sites, and CPS just provided us with a great deal of data to help inform our efforts. In addition to CPS data, the committee also designed a survey that we will be using to help inform our efforts. We have also met with leadership from UIC’s College of Education, which is where the current CPS CEO, Dr. Janice Jackson, received her Ph.D. in urban education leadership.

Some of the people at CPS with whom we are working are professionals with whom we worked to get STEM Magnet Academy opened, and on our community efforts to support the work at John M. Smyth IB World Academy. The efforts around STEM Magnet Academy, Smyth, and a new high school are all part of a strategic public education plan that C4C helped to develop to make sure that Roosevelt Square, and our broader community are successful, and desirable areas in which to work, and raise children.

Our community is the recipient of a great deal of recent public, and private investment totalling somewhere over $100 million which will continue to make our community a highly desirable one. An important finding that came out of the new Roosevelt Square master plan for which C4C successfully advocated was that our community desired a much better Chicago Public Library branch. The Roosevelt branch will be completed this fall, and work is well underway on Taylor Street on this beautiful new building which includes housing. The new market-rate townhomes on Grenshaw St. in Roosevelt Square, and a beautiful new SOS Children’s Villages community center across Blue Island Avenue from Smyth School will also break ground soon. The grand opening of the renovated Medical District Apartments, renamed Scio at The Medical District, is this week. Work on a beautiful new athletic facility at St. Ignatius College Prep has begun south of Roosevelt Rd., and work on a beautiful new Chicago Park District recreational facility on Addams Park will soon begin. The West Loop is also receiving a new Chicago Public Library branch because of efforts by community organizations there.

The new leadership at CPS has made it clear that it takes our high school efforts very seriously. There is more work to do, and media outlets have been following our efforts. We believe we will have success. We have made it very clear to CPS that increasing access to high quality public education is critical for the continued growth, and stability of the West Loop, and for the future success of Roosevelt Square, and West Haven as the Chicago Housing Authority continues to redevelop these sites. Mayor Emanuel’s Office, and Alderman Ervin have worked diligently with the CHA, and local community institutions to move Roosevelt Square forward in a very productive manner. We are grateful for their support of our community. We would also like to thank Ald. Ervin for spending a significant portion of his menu money to replace sidewalks, and parkways on the blocks near the Shrine Of Our Lady of Pompeii, and Notre Dame de Chicago after Peoples Gas damaged them in their gas line replacement work, and a big thanks to Little Italy resident Phyllis Mategrano for coordinating, and helping her neighbors on Flournoy St. to plant beautiful flowers, and other plantings in the new parkways on her block!!!