Principal James “Jay” Lalley had a similar experience setting up Northside College Preparatory High School for Region 1 on the Far North Side.
Lalley, who was previously principal of the prestigious St. Ignatius High School, was hired a year before the school was scheduled to open in fall 1999. With this lead time, Lalley was able to search several months for an assistant principal and department heads. In some cases, he made his pitch to candidates in person. (See Catalyst, November 1999.)
Northside was built in response to pressure from community groups in North Park that were clamoring for a new school. What they got was the state’s most expensive new school on a per- pupil basis.
Northside’s $47 million facility rivals Payton with an equally impressive array of amenities: a conservatory, five science labs, a 525-seat auditorium, a climbing wall, a fully outfitted exercise room and an Olympic-size pool. Students have access to 365 computers and also get their own e- mail accounts.
The new building is only part of Northside’s attraction, says Lalley. “The school’s new building is a tremendous attraction,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times, “But so is Northside’s college prep curriculum—especially to parents looking for a ‘free St. Ignatius’ or a ‘free Loyola Academy.'”