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Mayor Richard M. Daley joined Chicago Public Schools officials and community members for the ribbon-cutting at Adam Clayton Powell Elementary School, 7511 S. South Shore Dr., the 12th new schools opened in the past two-and-a-half years under the “Modern Schools Across Chicago” program.
Altogether, since Mayor Daley assumed responsibility for CPS in 1995, CPS has opened 47 new schools.
“Modern Schools Across Chicago” is funded with City redevelopment funds from Tax Increment Financing districts -- no state or federal funds are received.
“No other city in the nation has taken such a major step to assure that our children learn in modern, up-to-date environments, and last year the City Council approved funding for the second phase of the program, so the financing of modern public schools continues to be a top priority of the TIF program,” Daley said.
The Mayor said opening a new school gives students and staff a fresh start, greater hope and an improved learning environment.
Results are already being seen at Powell, where the ISAT composite score has gone up almost 25 per cent since 2008 and the school has a 96 per cent attendance rate.
“In the competition for the jobs of the tomorrow, which are the key to Chicago's future, nothing is more important than continuing to improve our schools. And we must pay special attention to improving our neighborhood elementary and high schools, as we are here with this beautiful new facility,” Daley said.
The school dedication also represented another stop on the “Neighborhood Appreciation Tour” the Mayor will make in communities all over the city before he leaves office in May to thank Chicagoans for their collaboration in helping the City move forward.
“Today I want to thank the residents of the 7th ward for their hard work and dedication. Working together, we've brought Chicago into the 21st century, and given it a bright future,” he said.
The Mayor said the TIF money that helped build the school is just one of the tools the City has used to make the South Shore and South Chicago communities a better place.
He identified a number of those initiatives:
- The City has committed $96 million in TIF funding to a project that Daley said has the potential to re-make South Chicago and the entire South Side -- the U.S. Steel South Works Plant redevelopment.
“Some day, a new neighborhood will rise on the 87-acre parcel of land, with new streets, new retail and commercial properties and new rental and for sale housing,” he said.
The first phase pf the project will include over 840,000 square feet of retail space and 250 units of housing. When the total project is complete, it is expected to create almost 1,000 permanent jobs. It will create some 1,500 temporary construction jobs.
The City’s Department of Transportation is already carrying out the U.S. 41 relocation project, which will accommodate the South Works development and result in a new alignment for U.S. 41 from 79th Street to Ewing Avenue.
- Both the Chicago Public Schools and the Public Building Commission have carried out numerous projects in this community in recent years.
In addition to the new Powell School, improvements or renovations have been carried at nine schools in the 7th Ward, with the work ranging from new playlots at Bradwell and Anthony Branch to major mechanical upgrades at EPIC Academy High School to the renovation of Eckersall Stadium.
- The PBC also built a new field house at Rainbow Beach and a new building at the South Water Plant to house new chlorine processing equipment.
- Through the Plan for Transformation, the Chicago Housing Authority has rehabilitated 283 units at the Mahalia Jackson Apartments and 63 other units at locations around the ward.
- The Chicago Park District has carried out 20 separate improvement projects at five parks or beaches in the ward: Bessemer, Luella, Russell Square, Ashe Beach and Rainbow Beach.
- The City Department of transportation marked almost 4 miles of bike routes in the ward.
“So I’m here today to thank every resident, every community organization, every business, every not-for-profit for their advice, support and cooperation on all these projects,” Daley said.
“Thank you for participating in the process. Thank you for your ideas, your input and your time. That’s what our system of government is based on – the people.
“It’s been a joy and an honor to be your Mayor,” he said.
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