CPS happy to take our census data in saving Jones, then shuts door on community input

Contributed by Blagica Bottigliero, GSLA Education Chair and ReUse Jones Committee Member

 

In an interesting twist in the ‘Reuse Jones’ movement, I recently learned that CPS is planning on keeping the current Jones High School building. The future use/fate of the building is to be determined.

To recap, many of us worked with 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti to show CPS why the near South area (South Loop, Chinatown, Bronzeville, West Loop) needed a neighborhood high school. The current Jones College Prep building services a public, citywide selective enrollment program.  A NEW building is in the process of being built, which resides next to the old building.

We saw this as a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate that the current building should be converted into a neighborhood high school. Prior to a CPS board meeting, I spent hours combing through the 2010 Census data and uncovered some surprising stats.

First, I used all of the zip codes CPS said could be in the boundary of a new neighborhood high school. Then I looked up the parcel of each zip code to ensure I had the appropriate census tract. Thanks to Joe G. for assisting me with the process for this look up.  From there, I manually looked up the parcels and the corresponding ages of the kids who lived in the area.

The findings:

  • Under 5: 4,288
  • 5 – 9: 2,425
  • 10 – 14: 2,212
  • 15 – 17: 1,365

In total, there were just over 10,000 residents of the proposed high school boundary who were 17 and under.  What gets MORE interesting is that my census tract alone had 524 children under 5, the largest numbers of any children in all of the tracts.

So I presented these stats to the CPS board, asking them to please reconsider keeping Jones as a neighborhood school option. Just recently, Alderman Pat Dowell told me that she believes the mention of census data is what stirred some action within CPS.  Good to hear.

Fast forward to this week. I received word that yes, Jones will be kept open, but there has been zero involvement from the very citizens who brought this data to CPS in the first place!

Why is CPS shutting out the very people who are in support of neighborhood schools? Why is CPS turning a blind eye to data?

There is another CPS board meeting tomorrow morning. I won’t be able to attend, but I urge many of you to do so.

This is one of the very reasons why many families are getting out of the city and moving to the suburbs.