Chicago Tonight In Your Neighborhood: Plan for New School on Near South Side Runs Into Opposition

A new high school is slated to be built at 24th and State streets, with the recent blessing of the Chicago Board of Education.

It was a tight 4-3 vote, an indication of how controversial the plan is considering that residents of Chinatown, the South Loop and surrounding communities have been asking for a new school for decades.

Mayor Lori Lighfoot’s all in to give it to them. But now that there’s political momentum, and some $60 million ready for the project, some of those very same advocates are skeptical, Grace Chan McKibben among them.

Chan McKibben, head of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, said Chinatown currently has elementary schools, but no open enrollment public high school.

She said some students spend two hours commuting elsewhere, and they should have a neighborhood school — one with programming designed to meet their needs.

“What we are trying to do when we establish the school, if we design it correctly, it will be a school serving diverse students, Asians, Black, Latinx, and White” Chan McKibben said. “But the focus will be on bilingual education, both for Chinese and Spanish, and also that there will be services for immigrants.”

Her main problem is where Chicago Public Schools is proposing to build this $120 million new high school.

The proposed site is home to the former Harold Ickes Homes, which were razed in 2009.

Chan McKibben said her community is standing in solidarity with housing advocates, who don’t want acres used for a