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Charter School Pulls Out of Lincoln Square Location

A representative from Concept Schools, who was looking to build a charter school on Balmoral Avenue, told Patch the company will be looking elsewhere for expansion.

A charter school company has pulled out of a possible Lincoln Square location after residents protested the school at a neighborhood meeting.

A Concept Schools representative said community resistance and poor timing led officials to withdraw their request for the charter school’s location. The charter school management company applied for a zoning change at 2050 W. Balmoral Ave. with Ward 40 Ald. Patrick O’Connor earlier in March.

Residents and members of the Chicago Teachers Union objected the proposal at a Bowmanville Community Organization meeting March 21. A 70-person crowd convened outside of the North Community Bank on Western Avenue, and BCO representatives had to limit the number of residents inside the bank due to fire code restrictions.

The meeting was the same night CPS announced nearby Trumbull Elementary School was on a list of 54 schools to close in the fall of 2013, when the proposed charter school would open. 

“It was probably the worst timing for us to be there that night,” Concept Schools Vice President Salim Ucan told Patch. “We kind of expected that. Alderman O’Connor had given us a head’s up on what the issues might be, so we knew going in that we may face some challenges."

Ucan said he understood the community’s perspective on the new charter school because of its close proximity to Trumbull.

“It doesn’t make sense to shut down the facility and have an empty building and build another facility two blocks from it,” he said. 

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Still, he wishes the Balmoral location had come to fruition. Concept Schools is looking to open two new schools by the fall of 2013. The company’s first Chicago school—Chicago Math and Science Academy—is located in Rogers Park. The second is now in the rezoning process and set for McKinley Park.

Ucan said with more time, he believed residents would have supported the school.

“If we were planning on opening this school in 2014, we would have overcome that challenge because we would have reached out to the community, organized tours to (Chicago Math and Science Academy) and bring our parents and students from here… to inform people what a great asset it would be,” he said.

With the Lincoln Square location falling through, Ucan said the company is looking at two other possible locations. He declined to disclose where until a final proposal is solidified.

Both locations are in the city and one doesn’t require a zoning change, which from a timing perspective, is ideal for a fall 2013 opening.

“The communities that we have found, they don’t deal with school closing issues, or even if they do, they’re not as close as the Balmoral location,” he said.

If finalized, the school would be the first in the city unapproved by Chicago Public Schools.

Before 2011, the school district was the only authorizing body that could approve or deny charter schools. If CPS denied a request, no appeal process existed.

That year, the Illinois state legislature created an independent state charter school commission to hear appeals. The governor appointed the nine-member committee, who overturned CPS’s denial of the charter school.

The school will essentially act as its own district, Ucan said, and receive per-student funding from the state.

In the future, he said the company is looking to build more schools in the city, and possibly return to the Lincoln Square community. 

Read more: 

  • Charter School Company Applies for Lincoln Square Location
MarkMunoz April 13, 2013 at 10:03 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks2_qlNZMN0 Jan, it's so nice to play devil's advocate, but in the scheme of things, it is long proven that when a charter school opens in a local community operated by known members of the Gulen Movement, they general hire only people and businesses from their cult. Janitorial, catering, tutors, contractors, etc., all are members of the Gulen Movement and they and ONLY they get the contracts. They then must Tuzuk part of their salary back to the movement. Usually to the multitude of non-profit insitutes or foundations layered around each school, in Illinois they have the Niagara Foundation, Gulen Institute, Turkish Cultural Center just to name a few. Not only that. MAny of the teachers on salary at their charter school also teach at the private Turkish school so many speculate that American tax dollars are used to support their private schools.
MarkMunoz April 13, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Katie; As a whole the Gulen Movement would rathr cream out the Special Needs students, they are a problem for them. The Gulencis want their schools to appear as award winning, 100% college acceptance, etc., the Speical Needs students have long been discriminated against at their charter schools. At the Minnesota School of Science, in September 2012, they informed 42 parents of special needs students to not bother returning. At their Harmony Science Academy in Texas, they mismanaged $118,000 intended for special needs students. Instead it ended up in the regular payroll system. That would be a good question to ask Salim et al, is for a SPECIFIC course of action for Special Needs Students and demand a % of the student body to have special needs. Sooner or later Concept Schools will have to respect and honor special needs students.
MarkMunoz April 13, 2013 at 10:28 PM
Here is Salim from Concept Schools in a Channel 10 News Report out of Ohio regarding the federal investigation and hiring practices of foreign workers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ATNlSGXr5s
MarkMunoz April 13, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Watch Salim at 2:22 talking about why he cannot find qualified Americans, This news cast also addresses the fraud of American Stimulus Money by Concept Schools to the tune of over $27 million. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y3ibHUoTsQ If Chicago or Illinois continues to allow this fraud in their schools, they have their own stupidity to blame. THey have been warned many times about the Concept Schools, Salim Ucan et al.
Melanie Bienemann April 18, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Yes, I believe charter schools have not proven better. If you compare them with CPS lottery schools there is no difference. They simply skim the best students off the top. And refuse to take children with IEPs and special education children. How can they take tax payer dollars and discriminate? Unfair. And their teachers are not certified, they don't even require them to have a teaching degree. Melanie Bienemann Chicago

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