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North Side Residents Fighting To Keep Charter School Out

CHICAGO (CBS) --It's a switch from the usual battle cry. A group of parents and aldermen on the North Side are fighting to keep a school from opening its doors there next year, reports CBS 2's Dana Kozlov.

After this school year, the building for the Lycee Francais de Chicago at Irving Park Road and Marine Drive will be vacated.

A charter high school wants to move in and residents want to keep it out, they say, for the good of their up and coming neighborhood high schools.

Wendy Vasquez is on a mission to advance Amundsen, the 86-year-old neighborhood high school that sits at Damen and Foster avenues. Esther Storrie, an area local school council member, shares that goal. It's why they, and dozens of North Side residents are opposed to Noble Academy opening its doors just a couple miles away.

"To put a charter school in here right now feels like it might block some of that momentum," said Vasquez.

Amundsen is one of two area high schools backed by growing, community support. Lakeview is the other. Those against the charter's relocation down the road say loss of money, not just momentum, is another concern.

"Because CPS funds on a per pupil basis, every kids who's not sitting at Lakeview or Senn or Amundsen is 5200 dollars that school doesn't get."

Which is why 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar is fighting it, too.

"And then you're adding more seats to the system which is going to pull more resources from the whole," Pawar said.

Both CPS, which must approve the plan, and Noble Academy officials strongly disagree and say school choice is a good thing. But opponents aren't backing down.

"The question is, is CPS gonna listen?" Pawar said.

46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman is also on record opposing it, as are at least two other area aldermen.

Those against the move say they plan to voice their opposition at a Chicago School Board hearing Thursday afternoon.

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