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Rahm Emanuel plans new CPS school on Far Southeast Side

Updated: October 17, 2013 6:26AM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday announced a new neighborhood elementary school will be built on the Far Southeast Side to alleviate overcrowding.

But aside from that, few details were offered.

And some parents of students at Gallistel Elementary Language Academy, where the announcement was made, were left fuming at the news.

Yes, they want relief to overcrowding at their school. But they don’t want Gallistel or its students to be forgotten.

Officials didn’t offer details about Gallistel’s future, but Ald. John Pope (10th) said building a new school is the priority.

The announcement came on the heels of the unprecedented closure of 47 Chicago Public Schools.

When reporters asked Pope about that, he pointed to Gallistel’s scattered campus.

“This is crazy that our students, our youth, have to traverse from this main building,” at 10347 S. Ewing Ave., he said.

Parents said Gallistel is split up into six buildings because of the overcrowding.

Pope declined to answer questions about funding for the new school, deferring to Emanuel’s office.

The mayor didn’t take questions and left Gallistel after the public announcement Sunday evening.

Emanuel did tell dozens of community members gathered in the school’s gym that the neighborhood schools are at capacity and a solution is needed. Parents have been asking for a help since the 1990s.

“The days of deferring are over,” he said. “For all of you that have been asking for this for years, this is your day. Take pride in it.”

But after the mayor left the alderman to take questions from community members, many were concerned about the fate of Gallistel.

“It’s unconscionable,” said Jose Garza, chairman of the Local School Council, said about the lack of details provided about his school.

Some parents said they had mixed feelings. They need a solution to overcrowding, but what about their beloved school that’s housed in a vintage building built in the 1800s?

“We were always promised equality,” Garza said.

The new school nearby means “you’ll have the haves and have-nots” in the community, he said.

Among other things, parents said they’re concerned about heavy traffic near the site of the new school.

Pope told parents at Gallistel they won’t be forgotten.

In follow-up questions with reporters, Pope said the kindergarten-to-eighth grade school would be built at 104th and Indianapolis.

After the public meeting, Rachel Kruer, a spokeswoman for the city, said in an email that upgrades are planned for Gallistel and a nearby school, Jane Addams Elementary, at 10810 South Avenue H. Kruer said CPS is working with the parents and the principals of Addams and Gallistel on priorities at both schools.

Kruer said the new school will cost about $35 million, with funding that will include money from tax-increment financing and the state. She said studies at the site of the new school found “typical environmental conditions” that will be addressed.

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