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New Schools 2009, Part 3 of 3: Twelve Institutions Approved

Oct. 29, 2008 – Twelve new schools will open in Chicago next year, including the district's first all-boys school, a fine arts academy and a charter school sponsored by the Chicago Bulls.

"These schools will continue to expand on the notion that not every child learns the same way," Chicago School Board President Rufus Williams said last Wednesday.

The new schools are part of Renaissance 2010 and will mostly be college preparatory academies.

"We are still in the early stages of the project," said Doug Elmer, Midwest regional manager for Talent Development High Schools, a program designed by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to help schools throughout the country prepare their students for college.

"We plan on having up to 600 students," Elmer said of the Chicago Talent Development High School, which will open in 2009 in West Garfield Park.

Another college prep school will open close by. The Garfield Park Preparatory Academy will start with one class per grade from kindergarten to 3rd grade, adding a class every year up to 8th grade.

"We want students to be fully prepared for high school," said Denise Ross, who will be the school's principal."To do so, we will be implementing four different programs in the school."

The most important of the programs, said Ross, will be the introduction of an accelerated independent learner model developed by Columbia University. In its mission statement, the so-called Double Diversity model is described as being particularly focused on enabling "young people historically underrepresented" to complete their studies and successfully start college.

"The school will also provide a family and social support network", said James Campbell, associate vice president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, which will operate the school.

The South Shore Fine Arts Academy will also open next year on the city's South Side. It will mainly be a neighborhood school, leaving only 30 percent of positions open to students citywide.

"It is our desire as a community to have this type of school," said Tara Shelton, principal of South Loop Elementary School, which will work closely with the new academy.

The Noble Street Charter School, which will be financially supported by the Chicago Bulls, still needs a location. The contributed amount by the basketball team is also to be determined.

Three organizations that will coordinate efforts to improve struggling schools also won approval at Wednesday's board meeting.

The Academy for Urban School Leadership, the Chicago Alliance for School Excellence and Chicago RISE will start taking over failing schools in February, when the Board of Education is set to decide which schools need more attention.

"The next step is to identify those schools that need our help," said Simon Hess, chief executive officer at Chicago RISE. "We basically look at introducing new academic models, increasing community resources and hiring a new set of educators," said Hess.


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