Mayor’s announcement on new school has parents concerned

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday plans to build a new elementary school to ease over-crowding in one south side neighborhood.

The plan includes building a brand new school at 104th and Indianapolis, right next to the Chicago Skyway to ease overcrowding for Gallistel  Language Academy and Jane Addams Elementary.

The mayor made the quick announcement at Gallistel’s gym of and took no questions, but parents and teachers had plenty.

“How will this affect our school? How will our kids get what we need,” asked Gallistel special education teacher, Andrea Porth.

No one denies the problem of overcrowding for But the Chicago Tribune reported CPS bought some of the land from a relative of former Alderman Ed Vrdolyak. Some residents say it was a shady deal for a polluted site.

“There’s a lot of traffic. Everyone knows the land is contaminated. It’s a horrible site for a school, said Jose Garza, Chairman of Gallistel’s Local School Council.

The state EPA found a gasoline storage tank leaking underground.

Alderman John Pope says that’s all cleaned up now.

“We spent $7 to $8 million dollars on acquisition clean up and legal fees and typical costs range from $40 to $60 million for a new school,” Pope said.

The alderman wouldn’t say where the money’s coming from. Cash strapped CPS closed 49 schools this year.

But parents say it’s not all about a new school. They say, Gallistel’s building is in bad shape and they want improvements made here too.

After the event, a spokesperson for the mayor said they’re working with the principals at both schools to prioritize needs and complete renovations. The new school will be built by 2015, paid for with TIF and capital improvement funds.


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