Charter school principal proposes buying school shut by CPS

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Despite a pledge by CPS not to allow any charter schools to move into the dozens of schools that were shuttered last year, a charter school principal on Thursday night proposed doing just that.

Legacy Charter School Principal Lisa Kenner said her 500 students are running out of room at their current location and proposed buying Pope Elementary, 1852 S. Albany, from Chicago Public Schools to alleviate the crowding while continuing to serve the community.

The meeting, held in the basement of a Lawndale church, was to discuss possible proposals before CPS begins accepting official bids.

“We really are looking for the community to drive the process,” said Liza Balistreri, director of real estate for CPS. “We don’t have an agenda for any of these buildings right now.”

She said vacant buildings probably would be put on the market in June and expects the bidding process to remain open for at least four to six months.

“When the buildings are put on the market, there can be limitations on them,” Balistreri said. “If this community wanted this building to be a balloon-making manufacturer, then we would put this on the market welcoming bids from balloon-making manufacturers.”

Or communities could leave the doors open to all possible ideas, she said.

“You’re wasting our time,” community activist Tonya Hunter said. “You’re going to do what you want to do anyway.”

More than 100 people attended the meeting, the majority of them supporters of charters schools who cheered Kenner’s proposal.

Balistreri did not specifically address the CPS pledge not to allow charter schools to occupy the vacant buildings, but she emphasized that the will of the community would determine the outcome of each former school.

Kenner said the charter school has about $8 million to buy the building, which has yet to be appraised, but is prepared to build a school if their bid is denied.

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