Charter group to re-open St. Scholastica as co-ed, public school

United Neighborhood Organization sees move as "passing torch to new generation of immigrants"

July 30, 2012

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(Flickr/Michael 1952)
One of St. Scholastica's classrooms.

St. Scholastica Academy, one of the city’s oldest schools for girls, is set to re-open this fall as a public charter school.

The Benedictine Sisters that ran the private, Catholic high school in the city's Roger's Park neighborhood, announced last spring it would close due to declining enrollment and loss of revenue.

The United Neighborhood Organization, one of the city’s largest charter operators, said it now plans to open a school in the St. Scholastica building this September.

St. Scholastica has a long list of notable alums—including former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne and the state’s former first lady Patti Blagojevich.

Juan Rangel, the CEO of UNO, said he hopes to carry on the school’s history but still plans to serve primarily Hispanic students like the network’s other 11 schools.

"St. Scholastica was built because of German immigrants that came and they provided a school for girls in that period,” Rangel said. “In some ways, I think UNO creates that tie, but it’s also the handing over the torch to a new generation of immigrants in that community.”

Rangel says he hopes to eventually expand the school to include high school, but that would require approval from Chicago Public Schools.

Students that were attending St. Scholastica will not be able to stay enrolled unless they will be seniors. The seniors will finish their last year in the building, according to UNO and the St. Scholastica website.

St. Scholastica is the second all-female, Catholic high school in the last year to not only close, but be replaced by a charter school.

Maria High School on the Southwest Side is in the process of phasing out, while an elementary charter school run by Catalyst Schools has moved into the building.