Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Wednesday August 12th, 2015, 4:30pm

CPS Pushes Back Hearing On Dyett High School To The Community's Chagrin

Chicagoans interested in the future of the Dyett High School campus will have to wait another month for the school district's public hearing on the issue.

Three groups have submitted competing proposals to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to open a new high school at the now-closed Dyett site, located at 555 E. 51st St.

CPS' public hearing on Dyett's proposals was supposed to be held at the start of this week. However, the district announced on Friday that the hearing was pushed back to September 15. 

The newly constituted Chicago Board of Education, which has four new board members and a new president, was expected to vote on a Dyett proposal recommended by CPS at its August meeting. Now, the earliest time the board could consider the plan would be at its September 29 meeting.

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, one of three groups behind separate proposals for the Dyett site, is upset over the district's abrupt decision to postpone the hearing and board vote.

For nearly two years, the coalition has been pushing its plan to turn Dyett into a "global leadership and green technology" high school.

The coalition, which developed its plan with the input of community members and academics, says the proposal's wait for consideration has been too long.

"The board has the responsibility. If it means they have do (overtime) to sit down and read and learn, they owe us that because we have been involved in an exhaustive process," said Jitu Brown with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, one of the groups involved with the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School. "We submitted a proposal to CPS before there was an RFP (Request for Proposals)."

The district is in the midst of dealing with its 2016 budget. In a press release, CPS said the district needed to extend the Dyett RFP process, which began back in December, and delay the public hearing to ensure there was "adequate time to review community feedback and proposals."

"Chicago Public Schools is committed to a community driven process that will identify a high-quality education option for the former Dyett site," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in the release. "We continue to review the applications by the 2014 RFP, but with the budget and financial crisis dominating the focus of the new CPS administration, more time is necessary to make an informed recommendation to the Board of Education. We look forward to receiving further feedback at the upcoming community hearing."

Back in 2012, the Chicago Board of Education voted to phase out Dyett due to poor academic performance and declining enrollment. The school, located in the Washington Park community, closed in June after its final senior class of just 13 students graduated.

The school district repeatedly stated that there were no plans to keep Dyett open beyond 2015. But following mounting community pressure against the school's closure, CPS decided late last year to accept proposals for a new open-enrollment, neighborhood high school that would be opened at the Dyett site in the 2016-2017 school year.

As part of its RFP process, the district did not accept charter school proposals, but contract schools operated by private entities were allowed to apply.

In addition to the global leadership and green technology plan, CPS has received two other proposals for the Dyett campus. The non-profit Little Black Pearl, which operates a contract school in the North Kenwood-Oakland area, is proposing to run an arts high school at the Dyett site. The third proposal, which CPS accepted despite its late submittal, is for an athletic career academy spearheaded by Dyett's former principal Charles Campbell. 

The September 15 public hearing on the proposals is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside the Chicago Board of Education chambers, located in the CPS Central Office building at 42 W. Madison St.


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