About 100 parents and students came out to Audubon Elementary School, 3500 N. Hoyne Ave., Friday night for a Chicago Public School public hearing on a proposed new high school specializing in special needs student inclusion programs.
With only a few exceptions, dozens of parents and students spoke in favor of the new high school, praising Audubon’s principal, John Price, Chicago Public Schools and the Christopher L. and M. Susan Gust Foundation, which is making a sizable donation to assuage the new school’s capital costs.
One of the first commenters, Kathy Argentar, a former president of Roscoe Village Neighbors, congratulated CPS on its efforts to incorporate Audubon parent ideas from when the project was first proposed eighteen months ago. “I am so excited to learn that this design has incorporated all that feedback,” she said. “This is a wonderful development.”
Despite the overwhelming parent support of the proposed new high school, a handful of commenters opposed the creation of a new high school that overlays existing neighborhood high schools and competes for limited CPS funding. Commenter Bob Miltonberger supported the proposed new Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy, but suggested CPS should instead be funding neighborhood schools “[Is it] the most efficient use of CPS operating funds?” asked Miltonberger. “[Is] this is the best use of our taxpayer dollars, rather than investing in an existing CPS asset?”
The proposed 500-student Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy, would open in 2011 and be located in unused space in the private, Catholic Gordon Tech High School, 3633 N. California Ave. Gordon Tech and the new Audubon school would share a gymnasium, a cafeteria, a library and science class spaces. The new school, which would also be led by principal John Price, would launch with just a ninth grade class and add a grade each year thereafter.
Rising Audubon Elementary School students would have priority admission to the new high school. Students in an area overlaying existing neighborhood high schools would then have priority admission. Finally, any remaining spaces would be distributed through a city-wide lottery.
Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy’s entire start-up costs would be covered by a grant from the Christopher L. and M. Susan Gust Foundation, a private family foundation that has been supporting Audubon Elementary’s autism inclusion program since 2008. The family also has a child enrolled in Audubon’s autistic inclusion program.
No documents describing the proposed new school were available at the meeting or on the CPS website when this article was published.
The Chicago Board of Education is slated to vote on Audubon Entrepreneurial Academy at its October 27, 2010 board meeting. A transcript of the hearing will be added to the Board minutes.