After its own deadline, CPS permits third proposal for Dyett HS — a sports-themed school

SHARE After its own deadline, CPS permits third proposal for Dyett HS — a sports-themed school

Chicago Public Schools has decided to entertain a third proposal to put a new school in the soon-to-be-vacant Dyett High School building — even though it was submitted after a district-set deadline.

District spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz gave permission to let the third proposal in “a few minutes late” on the day that requests were due. He could not provide any proof of when the application was submitted.

“CPS has agreed to consider the proposal in order to offer more options to the community and to encourage a more extensive conversation on the type of quality options that the community demands,” McCaffrey said.

A community meeting to hear details and ask questions about all three will be held on Wednesday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd. A formal public hearing is to be held Aug. 10, and the Board of Education is slated to vote at its August meeting on the proposals to open a new school in the fall of 2016 in the Dyett building, at 555 E. 51st St.

The Board of Education voted to phase out Dyett in 2012; this school year, the only students left were 13 seniors — so few that they took some courses online. Spurred this fall by protests, including one at City Hall that ended in arrests, CPS reconsidered opening the school again and issued a request for proposals.

The third idea submitted — the one that was late — is called “Washington Park Athletic Career Academy” and comes from Charles Campbell, the principal CPS brought in to phase Dyett out, a grade at a time.

Campbell, who said he turned his application in the day it was due, is advocating a sports-modeled school for grades 7 through 12 to fill the Dyett building with about 1,000 students at capacity. He wants to train students for careers behind the scenes in sports.

“What that means is in every classroom, we’ll be using sports themes to educate kids,” Campbell said. Like teaching statistics using a fantasy football league to “show them how stats work in real time based on players’ performance,” as general managers do for pro sports. Economics classes could discuss how cities decide where to put stadiums — or how much tax money to invest.

“The interest that youth have in sports and its relatability, there’s no other defining theme or concept than can motivate kids more than sports,” especially African-American and Latino boys whose graduation rates lag behind.

Two other groups have publicly discussed their plans — most notably the Coalition to Save Dyett High School, a group of South Side residents who’ve fought Dyett’s phase-out and developed their plan over the last several years for a neighborhood high school. The Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology Community High School would partner with the DuSable Museum, Chicago Botanic Gardens and UIC’s College of Education.

And Little Black Pearl, a not-for-profit arts organization that runs a contract school for CPS and showed interest in the site, also sent CPS its ideas for another contract school called Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy for 650 students in grades 9 through 12.

Little Black Pearl told CPS it will grant admissions priority to students who are “academically off track” and enrolled in school the previous year.

They also plan to offer multi-media, dance, theater, music, visual and industrial arts, plus a full college preparatory curriculum, and will feature a theater, exhibition space, a glass-blowing facility and a skateboard park, according to documents they sent to CPS.

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