CPS board approves charter school's expansion

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CPS board approved expanding a charter school to a site that includes one of the 50 schools closed two years ago. (WLS)

The Chicago Public Schools board approved Wednesday the controversial expansion of a charter school to a site where a now-shuttered school was located. The school was one of 50 schools closed two years ago despite public outcry.

The Chicago Teachers Union, which opposes charter schools, held a protest in front of CPS headquarters Wednesday morning.

"I want to see CPS, put money into schools we already have," said CPS teacher, Stephanie Collins.

Charter schools operate independently, but the CPS board decides which charter schools get renewed or moved to different locations.

As a result of the vote, Rowe Elementary Charter School will create a middle school facility on a slice of land once used by the now-closed Peabody Elementary. CTU says CPS is breaking its promise to not expand charter schools to properties closed in 2013.

"It is absurd to close schools to save money while simultaneously opening new schools in the precise buildings which were recently vacated," said Jesse Sharkey, CTU vice president.

However, CPS officials argue the closed Peabody building was sold to a developer to build condos and, in fact, Rowe will be using an annex on the property as a temporary location until a permanent building is built.

In a separate CPS agenda item, the board delayed a controversial vote to move
Noble Academy High School to a location in Uptown.

"We've heard enough that we need to know more before taking action," said David Vitale, CPS board president.

The pressure to delay came from several parents and Northside Alderman Ameya, of the 47th Ward. Pawar said a charter high school will take students and resources from neighborhood schools.

"We are trying to connect our wonderful K-8 schools through to our neighborhood high schools," Pawar told the board.

Pablo Sierra, Noble Academy's principal, said there is room for both in the Uptown neighborhood.

"This is not a fixed pie, I think it will grow the pie," Sierra said. "A lot of pent up demand is not being met."

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