April 15, 2008

Daley, School Officials Propose 5 New Magnet Cluster Schools

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public School officials, continuing a push to increase and expand high-quality education options across the city, today announced a proposal to convert five existing neighborhood schools into magnet cluster schools with a focus on technology.

The schools which would receive a new academic focus are Dumas Elementary, Dvorak Math and Science Tech Academy, Dunne Elementary, Nicholson Math and Science Elementary, and Spencer Math and Science Academy. It is the first time a technology magnet program has been put into neighborhood schools.

The proposal also includes a plan to replicate the success of three other existing schools - Burroughs Elementary School, Perspectives Math and Science Academy, and UIC College Prep - at new locations.

"We have been moving at an accelerated pace to replace underperforming schools and expand education options for more communities," Daley said in remarks delivered at Dunne Elementary, 10845 S. Union Ave.

"Each student gets only one chance for an education and we have a responsibility to do all we can on their behalf. There is no time to"wait and see." Kids can't wait and neither can adults," he said. "If we are to produce the kinds students who will keep Chicago a leader in the global economy, we must have a major focus on science and technology," the Mayor said.

If the new magnet cluster schools announced today are approved by the Chicago Board of Education, the system will have a total of 35 new education options for families to choose from in the fall.

"All these schools are designed to meet the various needs, interests, and abilities or our students as we move toward closing the achievement gap between our district and the rest of the state and the nation," Daley said.

"And with every new school we create and open, we move closer to our goal of providing high-quality education to every neighborhood in Chicago in order to produce the workers and leaders of tomorrow that our city will need," he said.

The latest school proposals, expected to go before the Chicago Board of Education at its April meeting, follow the proposal last month for five new magnet schools and a regional gifted center and the approval by the board in February of several new turnaround schools.

The five proposed technology academies are all existing kindergarten-through-8th grade schools and would place an emphasis on improving students' math and reading skills through problem-based learning, incorporating technology as a tool.

They were created as part of a district-wide technology initiative, which was made possible by a federal Voluntary Public School Choice grant for $11.7 million.

The schools also would receive new names. They are:

  • Dumas Elementary, 6650 S. Ellis Ave., which would be known as Dumas Technology Academy.
  • Dvorak Math and Science Tech Academy, 3615 W. 16th St., which would be renamed Dvorak Technology Academy.
  • Dunne Elementary, 10845 S. Union Ave., which would be known as Dunne Technology Academy.
  • Nicholson Math and Science Elementary, 6006 S. Peoria Ave., which would become Nicholson Technology Academy.
  • Spencer Math and Science Academy, 214 N. Lavergne Ave., which would become Spencer Technology Academy.

If approved by the board, the magnet cluster programs would begin in kindergarten and be integrated throughout the core curriculum.

Technology would be used to demonstrate and teach communication skills, creativity and innovation, research, development and information fluency, critical thinking and problem solving.

Academic testing would not be required to attend the technology academies. Current neighborhood students at the existing elementary schools would automatically transition into the technology academies.

If there are available seats after all neighborhood students have been enrolled, a citywide lottery would be held to fill those seats.

"These new education options are our way of making good on a long-standing commitment to parents and their children to provide great schools for them right in their own neighborhoods," said CPS Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan.

The proposal also includes plans to replicate three successful schools, two of which are charter schools that would expand to new locations.

Burroughs II Elementary School, 1852 S. Albany Ave., where the new school would share the facility with Pope Elementary. Burroughs II would be a literature and writing magnet cluster and performance school. Consistent with the original Burroughs School, Burroughs II would model its academic program on a teacher-driven collaborative approach to curriculum, with attention paid to the social and emotional needs of its students.

A new Perspectives Math and Science Academy would be located at 3663 S. Wabash Ave., which is the old Raymond Elementary School. The Perspectives charter promotes a strong-school culture philosophy and their curriculum is based on "A Disciplined Life" program.

A new UIC College Prep would be located at 1231 S. Damen Ave., in the former Gladstone Elementary School, which the board voted to close last month due to under-enrollment.

"Our schools are a work in progress. There's more to be done to make sure we're educating every child to the fullest each and every day in every school across our city, and that every student graduates from high school prepared to achieve his or her potential in life," Daley said. 

The Chicago Public Schools is the nation's third-largest school system. It includes more than 600 schools and about 409,000 students.