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Aldermen OK Controversial Plan To Use Closed South Shore High school For Police Training

The former Chicago public high school is one vote away from becoming a temporary police training facility.

The now-shuttered South Shore High School building, 7601 S Constance Ave.
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CITY HALL — The vacant site of a former Chicago public high school is one vote away from becoming a temporary police training facility.

The City Council Committee on Housing and Real Estate endorsed the plan (O2019-1535) that would allow the city to lease the closed South Shore High School building from Chicago Public Schools. The building is located at 7627 S. Constance Ave. in the 8th Ward.

Police would use the building to teach “use of force and de-escalation strategies,” Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. The training program is aimed at fulfilling reforms required under the consent decree placed on the department by a federal judge last year.

Harris wrote that police would occupy the building “for the next two to three years,” but the lease agreement up for consideration on Friday would last until Sept. 30, 2028.

The unanimous vote came at a shortened meeting of the Housing Committee amid the growing spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. A final vote is set at the meeting of the full City Council meeting on Wednesday.

Concerns about the virus prompted the cancelation of the Health and Human Relations Committee that had been scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Friday.

The building has been vacant since 2014, when its operations were moved to the newer South Shore International College Preparatory High School, 1955 E. 75th St. Neighbors told Block Club Chicago there was “no opportunity for the community to give real input” on the plan.

RELATED: South Shore Neighbors Blindsided As Plan To Turn Closed School Into Police Training Center Is Resurrected

Officials first aired the proposal to sign the building over to police last spring, but the plan was put on ice amid opposition from neighbors and the Chicago Teachers Union.

Union President Jesse Sharkey called the idea “a slap in the face of the community.”

Union leaders and activists blasted Mayor Lori Lightfoot last spring when she suggested that city leaders repurpose closed schools as police training facilities.

Aldermen also endorsed Lightfoot’s proposed shake-up of the board of directors that oversees the city’s Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, a publicly-administered non-profit organization that oversees subsidies for approximately 3,200 housing units around the city.

The committee also approved the remaining items in The Daily Line’s preview.