New high school on Near South Side would be good investment of taxpayer money

The area recently made history by gaining its first Asian American City Council member, and this same area should make history by being allowed to have its own high school.

SHARE New high school on Near South Side would be good investment of taxpayer money
A vacant lot at West 24th Street and South State Street in the South Loop

A vacant lot at West 24th Street and South State Street in the South Loop — part of the former Harold L. Ickes Homes — is the proposed site for a new CPS high school.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

The Chicago Board of Education needs to approve the construction of a new CPS high school on the South Side near Chinatown. There’s no doubt that building a new high school in this area is both necessary and a worthwhile investment of taxpayer money.

That being said, news that the board decided to delay a vote, pending more community input and research to ensure this project gets done effectively, was also progress. Community feedback on issues such as the proposed attendance boundaries, site and overall impact, is welcome, so the process and planning is not rushed.

Construction of a project like this is certainly not cheap. But the fact that Illinois is willing to put up $50 million, nearly half the cost, in an area of high population growth that has been demanding a high school for years, makes sense.

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The area recently made history by gaining its first Asian American City Council member. This same area should make history by being allowed have its own high school. Educational empowerment is just as important as political empowerment.

Investment in education and in building schools is not a zero-sum game. Nor should it be a race issue that pits one group against another.

There must be a way to accommodate valid community input without squandering the opportunity to build a new high school that offers a world of opportunity.

We should applaud the decision by the board to delay its consideration, but ultimately, this project should absolutely move forward.

Froylan Jimenez, Bridgeport, CPS civics teacher

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Curt Fredrikson, Mokena

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