Middle school proposed for Dunning site, may relieve overcrowding at Taft





by BRIAN NADIG

A proposed new middle school on the Northwest Side could be designed in part to relieve overcrowding at Taft High School.

An allocation of $75 million for the school’s construction is included in a proposed fiscal year 2017 supplemental capital budget for the Chicago Public Schools. School system officials have not released details of the plan, including the school’s exact location.

However, land for a new school was set aside several years ago near Irving Park Road and Oak Park Avenue in the Read-Dunning Tax Increment Financing District.

Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) recently said that he is optimistic that a new school could be opening there in the fall of 2018, and a freshman campus for Taft has been under consideration for the site.

In addition, Taft’s Seventh and Eighth Grade Academic Center, reportedly could be relocated to the new facility. The academic center, which is a gifted program that requires admissions testing, has about 250 students.

The project may require a shift in attendance boundaries for several area high schools. Taft’s enrollment is 3,280 students, compared to 1,500 students about 15 years ago.

The budget also includes a $1 million allocation for a turf field at Sauganash School and about $5 million for field improvements at unspecified Northwest Side schools. Taft has requested about $3.5 million with a new athletic field with spectator stands.

In addition, the budget includes about $44 million for annexes at two Northwest Side schools and $4.3 million for a new pre-kindergarten center on the Northwest Side.

Other area projects include $4 million for roof repairs at Solomon School and $480,000 for auditorium renovations at Belding School. Prussing School also is being considered for unspecified upgrades to its facility.

The supplemental budget totals about $600 million. Public meetings on the budget were held Dec. 5.

The supplemental budget would be in addition to the $338 million in improvements, which were announced in August. The previously announced projects include the installation of modular classrooms at Bridge School and $32 million in emergency rehabilitation, such as plumbing repairs at some schools.

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