Chicago's only all-girls charter school to close

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After 19 years, the only all-girls public school in Chicago plans to close its doors, due to declining enrollment and financial issues.

The Young Women's Leadership Charter School in Bronzeville was founded by a group of 23 influential women who wanted to give low-income minority students a better educational opportunity with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes.

"We have strong STEM programming, so we have created a partnership with another charter school to keep the legacy alive," said Dr. Vanesa Scott-Thompson, principal of Young Women's Leadership Charter School.

Scott-Thompson said she has worked out a plan for students and a 1/3 of the school's teachers to merge with the co-ed Perspectives Math and Science Academy. The plan is pending approval from the Chicago Board of Education.

History teacher Frank Cheers said he's worried about the students leaving a supportive all girls environment, something senior Kiarra Pearson says helped her thrive as a student.

"Being in an environment with all girls, I know I could be myself and I know that when there are things I'm going through, my sisters will be able to relate," Pearson said.

"I believe all of our girls in this building have the ability if they really set their minds to it to do well anywhere," Cheers said.

The last day of class at Young Women's Leadership School is June 7. While many students hope the legacy of the all-girls school will continue at Perspectives Math and Science Academy, so far only about 30-35 students out of 150 plan on attending the new school in the fall.
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