Logan Square parents target alderman over military school

Parents say they were left out of the decision to convert their neighborhood middle school to a military academy.

November 1, 2013

WBEZ/Linda Lutton
Ames parents and students protest earlier this week the decision to convert their middle school to a military academy high school.

Some Logan Square residents are targeting 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado over a decision to convert their neighborhood school to a military academy.

Ames Middle School parent Emma Segura said the decision to affiliate Ames with the Marine Corps took place behind closed doors, but she said parents plan to fight the plan.

“Why didn’t (the alderman) come inside the school? Why didn’t he talk to the parents? Why hasn’t he done a meeting for the community to go?” asked Segura. She also blasted Maldonado for making his announcement about the future of Ames four miles away, at Marine Math and Science Academy.

Segura said she and about 50 neighbors plan to go door to door this weekend around the school to survey residents about what they think Ames’ future should be—and to make sure they’re registered to vote.

Earlier in the week, the alderman, mayor and school officials announced that Marine Math and Science military academy would move into Ames. But that would have meant a school closing, something Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed he wouldn’t do anymore.

Officials now say the current military academy will stay put, and Ames will become Chicago Public Schools’ seventh military high school. It will serve 7th through 12th-graders.

The clarification came after WBEZ began asking questions.

Maldonado didn’t return a phone call or e-mail. On Friday afternoon, his website still indicated Marine Math and Science Academy was moving into Ames. "I am proud to bring Marine Math & Science Academy to our community and I am grateful to Mayor Emanuel for making this dream a reality,” it said, quoting from Tuesday’s press conference.

Segura, a parent representative on the Ames local school council, said the LSC has called a special meeting for Tuesday morning. They’ve invited top CPS officials.

Logan Square Neighborhood Association organizer Bridget Murphy wondered why a new military academy has to be located in a current school. “There’s been 50 shuttered schools around the city, why don’t they consider one of those?” she said. The alderman, mayor and school officials have argued that Ames is under-enrolled and low-performing.

Murphy said some aldermen may try to bring up Ames school at a meeting of the City Council’s Education Committee Monday.

Linda Lutton is WBEZ’s education reporter. Follow WBEZ education coverage at @WBEZEducation.