President Barack Obama is getting a namesake high school in Chicago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced plans Thursday to build the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School, a selective-enrollment high school, with $60 million in tax increment financing funds.
The school is scheduled to open for the 2017-18 school year on Chicago Park District property near Skinner North Classical School on the city's North Side. It ultimately will enroll 1,200 students, starting with a freshman class of nearly 300. Emanuel's office said the new school is part of his pledge to provide more high-quality options for Chicago families.
"Year after year, too many of our students who have put in years of hard work are turned away because as a city we haven’t had the capacity to meet their capability," Emanuel said in a statement, "and this important investment will help us fix that."
Emanuel said about 70 percent of the school's spots will issued to students through the selective enrollment admissions process used at such schools as Jones College Prep and Westinghouse College Prep. Obama College Prep marks Chicago's eleventh selective enrollment high school.
Such schools are in high demand, and Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett noted they are highly competitive. This year, applications for existing selective-enrollment schools grew 8 percent, with 16,440 students vying for about 3,200 seats.
“When a student has worked hard to make the grade and excel," Byrd-Bennett said, "we need to do our part to provide them with opportunities that will ensure they can live up to and achieve their full potential.”
Emanuel said the school's location was picked for its accessibility to mass transit and expressways. CPS is the nation’s third-largest school district.