Chicago's Dyett High School campus will be converted into an arts-focused neighborhood high school plus an "innovation technology lab," school officials announced Thursday.
The news broke on the 18th day of a hunger strike by parents and education activists who have been pushing for a long-proposed plan to reopen Dyett, 555 E. 51st St., as a district-run global leadership and green technology community high school.
In announcing that Dyett will become an "open enrollment, arts-focused neighborhood high school and community innovation lab," district leaders said the new plan piggybacks off of the ideas contained in the proposals it received for reopening the Washington Park school.
"Our objective was to make the decision that best meets our children's needs, and this plan creates the opportunity for a unique, world-class high school on the South Side," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement. "Working with community partners, we arrived at a solution that meets multiple needs: creating an open enrollment neighborhood high school, producing an enrollment stream that can weather population changes, filling the critical demand for an arts high school on the south side and working with education leaders to create a technology hub."
The arts-focused high school is slated to open in the 2016-2017 school year, and it is expected to serve 550 students once fullly enrolled, according to CPS.
As for the "innovation technology lab," CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said it "will serve as a community hub of innovation on the South Side, linking together the resources of local universities to ensure that students have access to resources and can gain the skills needed for the next century."
"CPS principals, teachers, students and families will benefit from professionals with expertise in science, technology and math," she added in a press release.
The Dyett hunger strikers, however, say they are not satisfied with the school district's proposal, and reportedly plan to continue protesting for the global leadership and green technology plan. They also argue that CPS did not follow its own process for opening a new school at Dyett.
The Chicago Board of Education voted to phase out Dyett in 2012 because of poor academic performance and declining enrollment. But following increased community opposition to the school's closure, CPS began accepting proposals in late December for a new school to open at Dyett in the 2016-2017 academic year. The school district had a public hearing on the Dyett proposals scheduled for September 15.
In addition to the global leadership and green technology plan, CPS received two other Dyett proposals. The non-profit Little Black Pearl, which operates a contract school in the North Kenwood-Oakland area, proposed an arts high school, and the third proposal was for an athletic career academy.
Read Progress Illinois' coverage of the Dyett hunger strike and the campaign to reopen the school as a global leadership and green techonology academy here.