$17 million in improvements to begin at Taft High School


Work on a $17 million improvement project at Taft High School which will include new windows will start this semester and will be completed next year.

Taft administrators have complained of windows at the school that are so cloudy that they cannot see through them for years. The rooms that receive new windows also will be painted.

Acting principal Carol Rownd announced at the March 4 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council that the school will lose some parking during the construction to storage trailers and dumpsters. Students will not be allowed to be dropped off in any of the school’s parking lots starting this month.

The project also will include tuckpointing, the renovation of nine science labs and the installation of new lockers. Many of the school’s lockers date back to when the school opened in 1939.

It also was announced that the school received a $30,000 grant from the Chicago Public Schools which will used for security equipment at the new student entrance and for professional development training on truancy issues.

Rownd said that funds also will used to purchase raffle prizes, such as a computer, which will be offered as incentives to encourage seniors to attend class toward the end of the school year. She said that other high schools in the city offer similar incentives.

Most students will continue to use the entrance on Bryn Mawr Avenue, but a new entrance on Hurlbut Street which is designed to get more students to their first class on time had a "soft opening" on March 3, Rownd said. She said that only students in the Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center or those who arrive on a school bus are allowed to enter from Hurlbut, but eventually more students may be allowed to use that door.

Rownd also reported that a new state mandate that requires all students to be enrolled in a physical education class will create scheduling challenges. Students currently can graduate with 2 years of physical education, which includes health and driver’s education.

Waivers on the requirement are being issued through next school year, Rownd said. She said that anatomy and dance classes can count toward a physical education requirement, but Taft does not offer dance.

Also at the meeting, several LSC members expressed concern about dog excrement on the school’s athletic fields. One member said that there is no need for dogs to be on Taft’s grounds because there is a dog park across from the school at Norwood Park, 5801 N. Natoma Ave.

It also was reported that Taft recently underwent an audit. "We did reasonably well," Rownd said. "We had to change some procedures on how we do things. We knew most of that."

The next council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 1.