President Barack Obama will have a new selective enrollment Chicago public high school named after him, his former chief of staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday afternoon.
Barack Obama College Preparatory High School, Emanuel says, will be built on the city's Near North Side using $60 million in tax-increment financing funds, the Chicago Sun-Times' Fran Spielman and Lauren Fitzpatrick reported. The school will open in the fall of 2017 with a freshman class of 300 students and will ultimately serve 1,200 students, the mayor said.
The school will be located behind Skinner North Classical School on Chicago Park District property and will help meet what CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett described as a high demand for more of the highly competitive selective enrollment schools in the district, according to WBEZ. The district currently has just 10 citywide and many students who qualify for admission are turned away.
“We must seize every opportunity to ensure our students receive a world-class, 21st century education and that they are able to take advantage of the academic opportunities they have earned,” Emanuel said in a statement. "Year after year, too many of our students who have put in years of hard work are turned away because as a city we haven’t had the capacity to meet their capability and this important investment will help us fix that."
A number of schools nationwide are already named after Obama, but this would mark the first in the president's home state of Illinois.
The announcement comes one day after the Chicago Board of Education's Wednesday vote that three CPS elementary schools will be turned around -- having all of their teachers and staff fired and replaced -- and turned over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a private operator, despite the protests of parents, teachers and staff, DNAinfo reported. The schools are Gresham, McNair and Dvorak.
Last year, CPS shut down 50 elementary schools in the largest single wave of public school closures in U.S. history and has been criticized since then for approving both the opening of more charter schools and expansions to other existing schools.