CPS seeks to relocate Rickover Naval Academy to former Luther North HS in Portage Park
by BRIAN NADIG
The former Luther High School North in Portage Park could become the new home for the Chicago Public Schools’ Rickover Naval Academy in the fall of 2019, according to Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th).
“They’re in the process of buying it. They haven’t sealed the deal,” Sposato said of the school system’s plan to acquire the former school at 5700 W. Berteau Ave.
Luther North closed in 2017 due to dwindling enrollment. New Life Community Church has owned the property for several years and had been sharing the facility with the school.
Currently the naval academy operates out of Senn High School, 5900 N. Glenwood Ave., but Senn is overcrowded, Sposato said. About 20 years ago the school system briefly considered housing the academy at Taft High School.
The academy is a Level 1 performing school and last year had about 550 students, serving ninth through 12th grades. Applicants must meet minimum test scores in reading and math.
Sposato said that he will ask if a certain number of enrollment spots at the academy could be reserved for graduates of the nearby elementary schools.
A developer had been interested in constructing houses on Luther North’s former athletic field, but the project never materialized, Sposato said. The school system wants to buy the building and sports field, he said.
The naval academy would become the second new high school to open in the 38th Ward in 2019. Plans call for a freshman campus for Taft to open at 4071 N. Oak Park Ave., where a $70 million high school building is being constructed.
New Life Church executive pastor R.A. Atanus said that the church only learned recently that the school system was interested in the property and is hopeful of a “possible partnership” with the school system. He said that whether the church would continue to use a portion of the facility would depend on the school system’s needs but that the church remains “committed to the community, and so is the public schools.”