Governor Pat Quinn today continued his commitment to improving education in Illinois by joining students, parents, advocates and community leaders to break ground on the United Neighborhood Organization's (UNO) newest school on Chicago's Southwest Side. The state is providing an $18 million Illinois Jobs Now! capital investment to help build UNO's Soccer Academy High School and a $1 million Brownfields loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help clean up the construction site by removing hazardous waste and petroleum contamination. The project is expected to create 200 construction jobs and 70 full- and part-time permanent jobs.
"The foundation of our state's future is the education of our children," Governor Quinn said. "Investments in schools we make today will pay dividends for years to come and make Illinois stronger."
The UNO Soccer Academy High School is based on an innovative concept of integrating the game of soccer into a traditional curriculum, including science, social studies, math and physical fitness, with the goal of using sports as a motivational tool to make sure students are academically well-rounded. The new high school will be constructed just a few hundred feet from the UNO Soccer Academy elementary school, 5050 S. Homan Ave., which has recorded a 98 percent student attendance in its first year of classes--among the highest in Chicago.
"The high school will be one of the most innovative facilities in Chicago," said Juan Rangel, CEO of UNO, which operates a network of 11 charter schools serving 5,500 students across the city. "We have shown our concept works by boosting attendance and creating an environment where children learn with the commitment and support of their families. When this new high school is complete in the fall of 2013, this campus will combine our community's passion for soccer with a true love of learning. I thank Governor Quinn for his strong support of this project."
The school will serve approximately 960 students in ninth through twelfth grades and help relieve overcrowding that has plagued schools in many Chicago communities. The new 79,000 square foot facility is part of a larger campus that includes a stadium, a community plaza and an elementary school Governor Quinn helped open in 2011. The building will be submitted for LEED silver certification at a minimum and the construction will have 30 percent participation from minority- and women-owned businesses.
Governor Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! capital program includes $98 million for UNO charter schools that will alleviate school overcrowding and provide quality education options for Illinois children. To date, the state has invested more than $84 million for green, capital and digital literacy initiatives at UNO schools.