March 11, 2008

Mayor Daley, CPS Officials Announce Six New Elementary School Options

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago Public School officials today announced a proposal to open five new elementary magnet schools and a new regional gifted center in the fall to expand neighborhood school options for students and their families.

"If we're to keep our schools moving forward, we need to make every school in every neighborhood a high quality school. All across the city, our neighborhood schools are getting stronger.

"At the same time, we must also work to offer new neighborhood school options so that parents can find the right fit for their child," Daley said in remarks delivered at what next fall will open as the Kershaw Magnet School, 6450 S. Lowe Ave.

Arne Duncan Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools, said: "The schools we're proposing today will offer Chicago neighborhoods a variety of highly coveted academic programs, including the International Baccalaureate Programme, a new world language program, a new children's engineering program, a new fine and performing arts and technology program, and a new Montessori program."

"These will be very sought-after new schools in neighborhoods that haven't always had access to these kinds of high-quality education options."

"The academic focus of several of these schools has been modeled after very successful schools in other parts of the city. We are very excited to begin replicating these programs throughout Chicago, Duncan said."

The six proposed new schools are Disney II Magnet, LaSalle II Magnet, Sir Miles Davis Magnet, Kershaw Magnet, Oscar Mayer Magnet, and Coonley Regional Gifted Center.

The proposals for these six schools will go before the Board of Education later this month. Upon approval and until the end of April, parents will have an opportunity to apply for their children to attend these schools.

The CPS Office of Academic Enhancement will begin accepting applications on March 27 for the 2008-2009 school year for the five new magnet schools, with a deadline for applications on April 25. If the Board approves the new schools, applications will be available at the schools and on the CPS website,

The magnet schools will not require academic testing, but will accept students through both a citywide lottery and from the neighborhood. A majority of the students attending the new magnets will be from the school's neighborhood. Students will have to test into Coonley Regional Gifted Center, which will begin accepting applications this fall for the 2009-2010 year.

Among the new schools announced today are four elementary magnets that will open in existing buildings and a fifth magnet to open in a brand new building. The schools were created with a federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant of $10.1 million. The grant was designed to provide "magnet makeovers" based on the standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The opening of the five magnets schools will bring to 52 the number of magnet schools in CPS. The five schools converting into magnets now will have new and very specific academic focuses.

Disney II Magnet School, 3815 N. Kedvale Ave., will offer a fine/performing arts and technology integration curriculum, initially to students in pre-kindergarten through second grade, with the magnet program starting in kindergarten. Core subjects, such as literacy and mathematics, will be taught through arts, such as dance, or technology. The school also will have an extended day and a Saturday Academy once a month where parents and students take part in projects related to arts and technology. Each year, a new grade will be added until the school becomes a pre-K-through-eighth-grade school. Disney II will be located in the former Irving Park Middle School, which the Chicago Board of Education last month voted to phase out based on input from the community.

LaSalle II Magnet School, 1148 N. Honore St., will provide a world language program that allows students to learn one of four different languages. The curriculum will incorporate the five "Cs" of the National Foreign Language Standards: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. LaSalle II will initially serve students in kindergarten through second grade and add a new grade level each year until it becomes a K-through eighth-grade school. LaSalle II will be located in the Andersen Elementary School, which the board last month voted to phase out.

Sir Miles Davis Magnet Academy, 6730 S. Paulina Ave., a brand new facility, will offer the district's first-ever children's engineering program. Children will work together on engineering design challenges that required them to define problems, research, design, construct, test, analyze and communicate solutions. The school will serve students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grades, and students from both the old Miles Davis School and Johns Middle Academy will have the opportunity to attend this new magnet school in the fall. The magnet program begins in kindergarten.

Joshua D. Kershaw Magnet School, 6450 S. Lowe Ave., is an existing neighborhood elementary school that will convert into a magnet and will offer the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme for children in kindergarten through fifth grade and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme for students in sixth through eighth grade. Both programs stress the development of the whole child--social, physical, emotional, cultural and academic needs, while the curriculum incorporates an international/global perspective. The school will serve students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Oscar Mayer Magnet School, 2250 N. Clifton Ave., also is an existing school that will convert into a magnet and will offer the Montessori Program for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme for sixth- through eighth-graders. The Montessori Program will serve pre-kindergarteners through first graders, then phase in one grade level each year until the program runs through fifth grade.

John Coonley Regional Gifted Center, 4046 N. Leavitt, is an existing neighborhood school that will receive a new regional gifted center for academically advanced students. Testing is required for admissions. The school will begin this fall by accepting children in kindergarten and first-grade and will add an additional grade each year until it serves students through eighth grade. The board approved the addition of a gifted center at Coonley last month, bringing the number of regional gifted centers in the district to 13. Regional gifted centers provide an accelerated instructional program in core content areas and include a world language, laboratory science, computer science and fine arts. The Coonley neighborhood school will continue to exist in the same facility with the new regional gifted center.

"This is another important step forward in providing the families of Chicago with the best possible education for their children," Daley said.

"There's nothing more important to me than giving our city a school system that gives every child the same opportunity to reach their potential and succeed in life," he said.

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