09/17/2013 12:14 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2013

Rahm Emanuel Discusses Plans To Build School On Possibly Toxic Site


Some Chicago residents are concerned that the district's plans for a new school involve building the facility on a potentially toxic site.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke Sunday at the Gallistel Elementary Language Academy, discussing plans to construct a school near the Chicago Skyway and Indiana border. The idea is to build a space that would ease the overcrowding of schools in the neighborhood, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Preliminary environmental tests conducted last year at the proposed construction site found unsafe levels of chemicals in the soil and a leaking underground gasoline storage tank, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"It's a horrible site, and it would be terrible for students," Jose Garza, chairman of the local school council at Gallistel Elementary Language Academy, told the outlet last year.

A city spokesperson told the Tribune that environmental concerns would be taken care of in the future.

Still, parents recognize the need for another school in the community. According to the Sun-Times, parents have lamented the issue of school overcrowding since the 1990s.

“The days of deferring are over,” said Emanuel, according to the outlet. “For all of you that have been asking for this for years, this is your day. Take pride in it.”

Emanuel’s plans for the new school come after the district closed nearly 50 public schools this past year due to “underutilization.”

In 2011, high levels of toxic lead were identified outside an elementary school in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.



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