Rahm Announces $15 Million Expansion Of Elementary School

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan Monday to expand a Northwest Side school plagued by overcrowding.

Wildwood Elementary will receive a $15 million annex in 2014 with enough room for 16 new classrooms.

Parents and teachers have been petitioning for something to be done for several years.

The Edgebrook neighborhood school is so crowded, the hallways have been utilized as classrooms.

"This building is a small downpayment on your accomplishments. It's long overdue, I know it's a beautiful building, but I'm more excited about the beauty it will create, which is futures for our children," Emanuel said at a news conference at the school.

Construction on the new addition is scheduled to begin next summer.

The announcement comes just one day after Emanuel revealed plans to build a new elementary school to alleviate overcrowing in two Southeast Side schools.

For more than a decade parents and teachers had been complaining about overcrowding at Gallistel Elementary Language Academy and nearby Jane Adams Elementary as both schools are operating at nearly double their capacity.

Gallistel Elementary has even set up trailers in the school's parking lot to ease some of the overcrowding.

Emanuel said Sunday he plans to open a new Chicago Public School in the area to address the community’s concerns.

“We will be building, for the first time ever, a totally new school for the community,” Emanuel said. “We have teachers shuffling, we’ve been renting rooms and leasing space at other schools- those days are over.”

But in the wake of the controversial closings of dozens of CPS schools, some are questioning the decision.

“The idea that he would build a new school at the same time that they’re closing under-enrolled schools just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Jesse Sharkey, Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Ald. John Pope (10th), who fought for the new building, said the school’s current century-old building is not a good fit for students and the development is necessary.

“It’s totally inefficient, it’s not safe, it doesn’t make sense,” he said. “This overcrowding issue needs to be addressed.”

The new school is set to open in 2015.

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