Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson recently announced the largest-ever program expansion to district schools, and Logan Square’s Goethe and Chase Elementary S
The new expansion invests $32 million across 32 schools, affecting nearly 17,000 students across the city. The hefty sum will go toward funding new programs in fields including International Baccalaureate, STEM, and Dual Languages.
“By expanding high-quality academic programs in schools across the city, we are supporting the record academic progress Chicago’s students are making, and inspiring the next generation as they continue to shatter barriers and redefine what they can accomplish when given the opportunity to succeed,” Emanuel said in a press release.
Funds will be provided over the course of six years, to aid in support staffing, training, acquiring learning resources, and other elements to help roll out the new programs.
Chase Elementary school was awarded $235,000 for STEAM programs, with the bulk of funding planned for updating their 15-year-old computer lab, which was not built to code.
“This will be accomplished by replacing the outdated desktop stations with new, economical laptops,” said Chase Elementary School Principal Raquel Saucedo.
“Having a classroom with
Additionally, Saucedo plans to conjoin the library and computer lab.
“We plan to use a portion of the funding to make the library an extension of the computer lab,” she said. “This will enable students to spread out with their projects and maximize their critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills.”
Other big additions will include a full-fledged Makers Lab, allowing children to experiment and explore their curiosity with hands on experiments and lessons.
While not particularly in the STEAM realm, the funds will also allow Chase Elementary School to hire a dedicated Art teacher, a position they had to cut previously.
“We have had to go without an Art class for the past few years,” said Saucedo. “It was a hard decision to make, however we could not afford to have both Art and STEAM. We decided to close our Art position and have a makeshift STEAM lab instead.”
Goethe, on the other hand, received $72,000 to fund Dual Language programs.
“At Goethe, the dual language track will replace our current transitional bilingual program and work towards maintaining Spanish in academics throughout the intermediate grade levels in our school,” Goethe’s website said.
“By fully immersing students in both English and in Spanish, they will not only become bilingual and
biliterate, but also gain an advantage as they prepare for college and careers in a global 21 st centuryeconomy.”
The application process for this expansion was rigorous, but allowed the schools to come together to focus on areas of improvement and make the award a team-effort.
“During various staff meeting forums, all staff members were afforded the opportunity to contribute to this application process,” Saucedo said. “These efforts were evident in our intent to apply, the application, and during the site visit.”
Principal Saucedo believes Chase (and Logan Square schools in general) were selected because of their unique location in the city; in both densely populated white and Hispanic communities. Further, Saucedo believes schools in the area simply lack the proper funding for these programs.
“We believe that Chase was selected because we are situated in an area of the city where STEM and STEAM designated schools are lacking. Although many of us create programs, we cannot make them robust nor can we
“This STEAM Program Designation affords this opportunity to school communities, like Chase, that
Featured photo: Tom Vlodek