For the first time, Chicago is putting a new selective enrollment college prep school and a new vocational education magnet high school under the same roof.
Both schools will share a brand new school building on Chicago’s West Side, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced today.
The new schools, which start construction in 2006 and will open in the fall of 2008, will replace Westinghouse High School, which is exclusively a vocational education school. Each school will house approximately 600 students. The proposed cost is $47 million.
“Together, these two new schools will be the jewel of the west side offering high quality educational options to young people in this neighborhood and throughout Chicago,” Daley said at a press conference at Westinghouse, 3301 W. Franklin Blvd.
Joining the Mayor for the announcement were Chicago Public School officials, community leaders and several aldermen. The new high school is largely funded by tax increment financing dollars, which require City Council approval.
Arne Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools said, “This is a great day for the West Side. We have always needed a selective enrollment high school in this community and we are also continuing the Westinghouse tradition of training young people for jobs.”
There is great demand for a selective enrollment high school on the West Side. More than 1,700 students living in communities surrounding Westinghouse applied for one of the eight selective enrollment high schools this year, but only 233 were accepted, due to the lack of available space in the city’s elite public high schools.
The current Westinghouse, which is located in a former factory building, is not technically a “neighborhood” school – meaning it has no specific attendance area – but rather attracts students from throughout Chicago. Approximately one-third of the current Westinghouse student body comes from the surrounding community.
The new Westinghouse will have separate admissions policies for each school. The selective enrollment school will use the same admissions system as the other eight selective enrollment high schools, such as Whitney Young and Walter Payton. The vocational education high school will set a minimum standard for applicants. Through interviews, it will identify students particularly interested in vocational education, similarly to other specialized high schools, such as the Bronzeville Military Academy.
“High school students are not all the same,” Duncan said. “Some need an academically challenging environment and some need a curriculum focused on job training. We’re going to have both.”
Scott also said that at least 30 percent of the seats in the vocational education high school will be set aside for community residents to ensure that they have access to the school.
The new Westinghouse High School is the sixth new high school to be built since Mayor Daley took control of the school system in 1995. Under the Mayor, CPS has also built 30 new elementary schools and approximately 70 additions, both to relieve overcrowding and replace deteriorating facilities.
All told, CPS has invested well over $4 billion to improve schools since 1995, with 85 percent coming from local taxpayers, 14 percent from the state and 1 percent from the federal government.
The Mayor thanked taxpayers in his remarks saying, “The people of Chicago have fully supported our efforts to create great new schools in neighborhoods all across Chicago and we should all be grateful for the generosity of our taxpayers.”
In the coming months, Chicago Public School officials will work with community residents and leaders to identify areas of focus for the vocational high school to ensure that they are aligned with the job market of the future.
“Our goal is to give young people the skills they need for jobs of the future – not the jobs of the past,” Daley said.