New elementary school on SW Side to cost $35 million

November 2, 2013 (CHICAGO)

It's in the district led by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Madigan was there for Saturday's announcement. Both he and the mayor say the school will address the ongoing school overcrowding problems in the area.

Parents in Chicago's West Lawn neighborhood love the idea of getting a new school.

"If you have lesser kids in the classroom. The teacher can really concentrate on the skills that they need," said parent Maria Melchor.

Saturday afternoon, parents like Melchor along with community and education officials joined Mayor Emanuel who announced the planned opening of the new Southwest Elementary School.

"It's impossible for the teachers, the parents, the principals to kind of give the kids the instruction and education they need when you have twice as many students as what the building can actually handle," Emanuel said.

The hope is the new grade school will help alleviate overcrowding at nearby Peck and Pasteur elementary schools.

Pasteur's principal says his school is 187 percent overcrowded.

"Having 35 or over in a classroom isn't conducive for college and career readiness," said Gerardo Trujillo, Pasteur Elementary principal.

The school has already received close to $11 million since 2004 to try to solve the problem.

"The communities of the Southwest Side or neighborhood have seen a substantial increase in young population," said Hector Rico, Latino Organization of the Southwest.

The new building will be built where the fields on the campus of Hubbard High School are now. Madigan helped secure $35 million state capital funds for the project.

"Every school on the Southwest Side is either close to capacity or over capacity," he said.

The new school will house 1,200 students.

Construction of the new school begins in 2015, meaning kids like Abraham Melchor could be walking the halls of the new school by September 2016.

"When it doesn't get overcrowded I'll be happy," he said.

After the announcement, Speaker Madigan did briefly comment about Illinois ongoing pension crisis and reform, saying there has been some progress, but a lot of work still needs to be done.

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