The Chicago Public School system made recent headlines when it announced plans to consider launching a residential program for students in the near future – as early as fall 2009.

A Chicago Tribune article entitled “No Small Plan: Public Boarding Schools for Chicago,” says that while boarding schools are usually an option only for the more affluent, they are “virtually unheard of for the disadvantaged.”

But because of the dangerous nature of many neighborhoods, and the family problems in some homes, education is often overlooked. CPS chief Arne Duncan says, “Some children should not go home at night; some of them we need 24-7.”

The program, still in its early stages of consideration, would offer homeless students and students from low-income and/or troubled families an opportunity to live in a setting where they could focus on their studies. It would not be mandatory, but rather would offer the boarding school as an option.

Urban boarding schools, while few and far between, are in place in some large U.S. cities.

The SEED Foundation opened its first boarding school, the SEED School of Washington, D.C., in 1998. Its second boarding school is scheduled to open in September 2008 in Maryland, in southwest Baltimore. ANCHOR, a New York City non-profit organization, partners with local schools to provide urban boarding school programs for inner-city students.

In Chicago, the residential programs would be administered by Teen Living Program and operated by North Lawndale College Prep. Initially, the program would provide residences for 15 to 20 of its homeless students.

The program still needs to be presented to the board of directors for the charter group and Teen Living; the plan would then need to be approved by the Chicago Board of Education.