New school opens on Chicago's South Side

September 2, 2008 4:26:54 PM PDT
Mayor Daley greeted students on their first day of class at Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy Tuesday morning. It is Chicago Public Schools' first new building in two years.Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy is located at 6730 S. Paulina Avenue. The new school, one of 34 new educational options CPS is offering this year, consolidated students from two nearby Englewood schools into one larger facility.

"The other building was little. After they get out of the third grade, they had to go to the other school...I'm glad they did build this school," said parent Shereen Frazier.

"I just love being in school because it's fun, fun work," said Jada Brunson, student.

Even though the school year begins under the shadow of Reverend James Meeks' boycott to protest school funding, CPS chief Arne Duncan said Tuesday he was not concerned about a possible disruption.

"We estimate over 99 percent of our students will be in school. So our focus is on that 99.5 percent of the students who are in school today. We welcome the other students back obviously as quickly...we want to get them back into school," said Duncan.

"Any child that doesn't go to school, basically we lose money. You can't make it up, either. If they come the fourth or fifth day, you can't make it up anyway. You lose money. You lose money per child. Simple as that," said Daley.

Chicago Board of Education president Rufus Williams issued a reminder for those who may be participating in the boycott and are considering leaving their kids out for the next several days. Williams says that in the Chicago Public Schools, children are only allowed to miss nine days of school before they have to go to summer school or risk not being promoted to the next grade. That attendance requirement that has been in place for the last several years.

As the school year begins, police are reminding Chicago students about the citywide curfews. The curfews are enforced from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. weekdays and from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. on weekends. Chicago Police can cite minors during those hours. More than 18,000 curfew violations have been issued since January.

Even though the first day of class begins during a school boycott, school officials are looking to downplay that Tuesday. They say even though school enrollment is down slightly in Chicago, graduation rates are up and drop out rates are down compared to previous years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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