Zion IL City Council
United States of America

Zoe Life Academy [ZLA] has provided quality early childhood education to children of color since 2019.

ZLA is an interest based learning institution founded by Krystle McNeely, JD.. Krystle, an attorney and curriculum designer engages young student scholars through and The Zoe Way. "The Zoe Way" is a curricular model designed specifically with students of color in mind. Through The Zoe Way tenets students are provided access to academic empowerment activities and lessons geared towards the promotion of empowerment and success,

This curriculum model is enrichment based and has proven to help children excel in their academic studies through exposure and cultural appreciation. In an article titled "Closing The Achievement Gap With Curriculum Enrichment & Differentiation", researchers found that evidence proved "that engagement in learning is enhanced when students' interests and choices are considered. [And there is a] need to provide learning experiences that were responsive to the learning characteristics of a diverse student population."

Currently operating in Wadsworth, IL ZLA is desperately in need of a larger space. Additional space will allow ZLA to provide it's students with COVID safe opportunities including... theater, indoor/outdoor play area, library, computer lab, dance studio, STEM room and more!

In 2020, ZLA identified a property that would allow them to serve up to 200 students safely in the Zion, IL community. Krystle McNeely began the plans for expansion in July 2020.

The city of Zion IL Planning and Zoning Committee has the power to make recommendations for the approval or denial of all special use permits in the city of Zion. This recommendation includes an evaluation of safety and compatibility of the proposed business in the requested zone.

ZLA applied for a special use permit in September, 2020. This permit was to operate a childcare facility and school in a G1 zoned area, otherwise known as Industrial.

The Planning and Zoning Committee conducted the proper processes to evaluate ZLA's request and deemed ZLA's proposed business as compatible. ZLA also paid and had pre-approval walkthroughs and evaluations for compatibility by the City of Zion Fire Marshal, city representative and DCFS - ZLA's governing body.

After receiving approvals from DCFS, Zion City Fire Marshal, and the city official, the Planning and Zoning Committee recommended to the Zion City Council to approve our request. In December, 2020, the City Council approved and granted the permit. This is after two commissioners voted against and the rest of the council voted in favor of ZLA. Some concerns were raised for a desired cannabis growth within 2500ft of ZLA's proposed school, nevertheless, the permit was granted with majority vote.

After receiving approval, the city called ZLA and stated that they would be seeking to revoke the permit because the city has hopes of receiving a license for a cannabis growth. The city lost the fight for this license 5 years ago after Columbia Care in Aurora was granted it. Zion IL has held on hope to get said license and has blocked businesses from opening in this area with no guarantee that they'll ever successfully win against Columbia Care. In fact, due to the lower court case facts, the chances of Zion's victory is slim to none.

ZLA is now asking the city of Zion to allow us to keep our permit that was justly granted to us. ZLA has the hopes of expanding to serve more children and families who have traditionally and historically lacked access to quality education and resources.

Zion IL has 29% of children in poverty and almost 50% of the black and brown community are also in poverty. Research proves that quality education can be used as a key agent to battle poverty rates and close achievement gaps in a traiditonaly disenfranchised community.

We are asking local community members near and far to sign our petition and demand that the city council allows ZLA to keep their permits, deal in good faith and allow us to bring a much needed revolution to education starting in the City of Zion.

We, the undersigned, call on Zion, IL City Council to #StandwithZLA, choose children over cannabis, people over profit, and NOT revoke the special use permit justly granted to Zoe Life Academy.

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The Stand With ZLA; Support Children Over Cannabis petition to Zion IL City Council was written by Krystle McNeely and is in the category Education at GoPetition.