The former Austin High School took another step closer, Tuesday, to finding out its future as part of the city’s Renaissance 2010 school restructuring plan.
Austin TAC (Transition Advisory Council) members recommended the Austin Business and Entrepreneur Academy as one of the three small schools for the Austin campus at 231 N. Pine.
The academy’s design team includes Rev. Lewis Flowers, CEO of the Westside Ministers Coalition, and Malcolm Crawford, owner of African Accents, director of the Austin African American Business Network, and a monthly Austin Weekly News columnist.
The academy’s curriculum will include a combination of core-taught subjects?”math, science and language?”and instruction will involve business development and planning.
“We look at business as a viable alternative to what’s happening in our community,” said Crawford. “We have a very vested interest in Austin. As African-American businesses, we need help, and where will we get that help? We need to get it from people in this community.”
TAC members met Tuesday night with members of the high school’s Local School Council (LSC).
The TAC will next submit their recommendation to Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan, who, along with the Chicago Board of Education will make the final decision on the entrepreneur academy and the other proposed schools by early next year. The new schools for the Austin campus are scheduled to start classes by fall 2006.
TAC members rejected two other proposed schools: The Metropolitan Academy of Science Charter School and the Austin Polytechnical Academy, a manufacturing-training school.
Members said their objections to the others were based on concerns ranging from the individual school’s budget, curriculum, and administrative hierarchy. TAC members met with the school’s design team following Tuesday’s LSC meeting.
The entrepreneurial academy will run as a contract school. Other Renaissance 2010 schools, including the Al Raby School on the former Flower High School campus, 3545 W. Fulton Blvd. and the Little Village High School in South Lawndale are either charter or performance schools.
A third party manages contract schools, which have entered into a contract with CPS to operate the school under Renaissance 2010 guidelines. A total of 10 new schools opened in Chicago this year, including nine high schools and eight elementary schools.
The Austin TAC team still has to make recommendations on two additional schools for the high school campus. Meetings began last September.
“We’re not done. We still have more work to be done in the days ahead,” said Austin TAC member the Rev. Walter Jones.
The two specialty schools for science and manufacturing technology presented their proposals TAC members and the community in October. The former Austin Community Academy High School was among the schools slated for closure under Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 initiative. This is the last year in which it will operate as a single, large school.
Poor performance resulted in the school’s splintering into several smaller schools. Renaissance 2010 calls for the creation of 100 new schools citywide, many of which have opened in existing school buildings.
Austin TAC members acknowledged the need for business development in Austin as one of the decisions in choosing the entrepreneurial academy.
Crawford said the 7-member design team is 90 percent optimistic that CPS will choose them for Austin.
“We’re excited that we can do something for our children because we think it’s long overdue,” he said. “I understand churches’ [involvement], I understand the social services, but more than that I understand business. And I see it as an alternative. To have young African-Americans trained and ready [will allow] our businesses to do well; so that’s the concept.”