Is CPS Ignoring Opposition to Audubon High School Proposal?

By Mike Fourcher | Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Congregation of the Resurrection, sponsors of Gordon Tech High School, 3633 N. California Ave, voted down a proposal earlier this month from Chicago Public Schools to house Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy, a new high school specializing in autism inclusion programs. In fact, according to Gordon Tech’s principal, the proposal voted on by the CPS Board on October 27 never had a chance.

“All along there was no deal,” said Gordon Tech Principal Kelly Jones. “CPS jumped the gun and put a deal forward without getting approval [from Gordon Tech] for their proposal.”

According to testimony from Audubon Elementary School principal John Price at an October 25 CPS field hearing, the proposed Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy would be housed in vacant space in Gordon Tech’s north building. As approved by the CPS Board, Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy would serve hundreds of students, including many without special needs.

According to Jones, this was not the original proposal made to Gordon Tech last school year. CPS officials initially approached Gordon Tech in 2009 with a proposal for a much smaller high school with 25-30 students per class that served only autistic children. But that was, “a very casual discussion,” and not a serious negotiation. “It was never a done deal. It was just talks,” says Jones.

As the scope of the proposed CPS program grew beyond what had been originally proposed, Gordon Tech was not kept abreast of the expanded scale. “That might have been one of the things that killed it,” says Jones.

Jones doesn’t seem to think there’s any future for a CPS-Gordon Tech partnership.

“It’s finished,” said Jones. “Gordon Tech is a Catholic school. It’s got to remain Gordon Tech High School. Our school continues to grow. As far as we’re concerned it’s a Catholic preparatory school.”

The future of the proposed Audubon high school hinges on $5.9 million in grants, largely from the Christopher L. and M. Susan Gust Foundation, to refurbish existing school space. Without an empty school building ready for renovation, it is not clear what the prospects are for the proposal.

Audubon Elementary School principal John Price and CPS Communication officials did not return requests for comment by publication.

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