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Alderman wants CPS program in closed school building

Chicago Public Schools will consider a South Side alderman’s proposal to move a special CPS academic program into a closed school building despite promises from the schools chief not to put schools in the buildings shuttered for being underused.

Ald. Will Burns (4th) wants to move seventh and eighth graders from the Academic Center at Kenwood Academy High School into the building at 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., that until last week housed Miriam G. Canter Middle School, he said Tuesday.

Burns said Kenwood is crowded and could use the space vacated by the 135 seventh and eighth graders students in the selective enrollment program. And the program could expand in the new space, too.

“It’s a good solution all the way around,” said Burns, who hosted a community meeting Monday night to discuss Canter’s future. “There were a number of people who think it’s a good idea as well. We’ll see what happens.”

The Chicago Board of Education included Canter in last year’s historic school closings vote, saying the school wasn’t full enough with 228 students in a space built for almost 400, but let it operate for one more year so its rising eighth graders could finish there.

Burns wouldn’t say whether his plan would fly in the face of promises made by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett not to reuse shuttered buildings as schools. Neither would CPS, saying it would listen to community suggestions for the buildings, as an advisory committee recommended.

District spokesman Joel Hood also pointed to growing demand for academic centers, saying only 901 of 1,757 qualified students who applied to them were accepted for the 2014-15 school year.

“Alderman Burns has indicated his support for a proposal to use the former Canter building to meet the growing demand for Academic Centers across the district,” Hood said in a statement. “We look forward to reviewing this proposal and others that demonstrate strong community support.”

CPS is already planning to move Chicago High School for the Arts into the building at 2714 W. Augusta formerly occupied by Lafayette Elementary School.