Jesuit high school gets OK for Guilford Ave. site


September 01, 2006|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN SOURCE

City officials have formally awarded development rights to a vacant elementary school in the Station North arts district to a new coed Jesuit high school for low-income students based on a work-study model that will combine rigorous academic programs with entry-level positions in business and professional offices.

An announcement of the award to the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is to be made at 2:30 p.m. today at the vacant Mildred Monroe Elementary School in the 1600 block of Guilford Ave.

Plans for the school were originally announced in February, but officials said at the time that no formal award had been made.

Christopher Shea, deputy commissioner for development in the city's housing department, said the city received one other proposal to redevelop the school into 45 luxury condominiums, but he said the proposal was "not responsive" because it did not contain necessary financial and background information.

The city will commission an appraisal of the property before drawing up a contract with Cristo Rey, which would have to be approved by the Board of Estimates, Shea said.

Shea said the Jesuit school had asked to pay $1 for the building -- a figure he suggested would not be unreasonable given the boost the new school would give to the neighborhood and the amount of money that would be needed to rehab the school, which has been vacant for five years.

The Rev. John Swope, president of Cristo Rey, said capital and operational investment in the school are anticipated to be $15 million over the next six years.

The school, which would be part of a national network of similar schools, hopes to open a year from now with 110 ninth-grade students and eventually grow to 450 students, Swope said.

Student employment would cover two-thirds of the tuition expenses, Swope said. The out-of-pocket cost to a student is expected to be $2,500 a year, though officials said they would seek funds to cover up to half those costs.

An open house for the school is scheduled to be held Oct. 14 at Loyola College.

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