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Board approves first construction projects

Design will begin soon on the first schools to be built with money from a bond issue that voters overwhelmingly approved last November.

The Board of Education voted Thursday to approve a project list that includes two high schools – a replacement for John F. Kennedy and a new West Side high school – and seven replacement preK-8 buildings: Charles W. Eliot, Fullerton, H. Barbara Booker, O.H. Perry, Skyline, Waverly and William Rainey Harper.

Ultimately, CMSD plans to build 20 to 22 schools and remodel 20 to 23 with money from the $200 million bond issue. Issue 4, as it appeared on the ballot, will not raise taxes, and the state will contribute more than $2 for every $1 the District spends on new construction.

The last of the work is to be finished by 2020.

Planners gave preference to projects on sites that the District controls. Another consideration was convenient access to former schools or other “swing space” where students can attend classes during construction.

JFK E3agle Academy and PACT (Problem-based Academy of Critical Thinking) -- two year-round high schools that opened last July – will share the new John F. Kennedy campus.

If a land swap is completed with the city, JFK is expected to move from near to Lee and Harvard avenues to a site in what is now Roosevelt Park.

Advocates have long called for a new West Side high school but finding a site in developed neighborhoods was difficult. Current plans call for the new school to rise in place of the Max S. Hayes career-technical school, which will move from Detroit Avenue to a state-of-the art building near West 65th Street and Clark Ave. this summer.

Skyline will replace the old Sunbeam School and is to be part of a new development that is being called the Skyline Campus.

A new William Rainey Harper will replace a closed school of the same name. A study completed for the District showed a need for the West Side project.

CMSD, working with the state, began its modernization campaign in 2001, after the gym roof collapsed at the East Professional Center, formerly East High. Since then, the District has built 34 schools and fully renovated seven others.