Logan Square parents: We want a voice in military school proposal

News comes one day after new CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett vows to engage community in decision making.

November 1, 2012

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(Becky Vevea/WBEZ)
Parents, students and community members fill a room at Ames Middle School to discuss a proposal their alderman submitted to CPS without their input that would turn the school into a military academy.

Less than 24 hours after Chicago Public Schools' new CEO Barbara Bryd-Bennett announced her intentions to rebuild trust in communities before shuttering schools, a northwest side community isn’t buying it.

Parents packed a room at Ames Middle School in Logan Square to discuss a proposal recently submitted without community input to the Board of Education by their alderman, Roberto Maldonado.

The proposal would bring Marine Military Academy to the Ames Middle School building. Currently, Marine Military Academy shares a building with Phoenix Military Academy at 145 South Campbell Avenue on the West Side.

The standing-room-only crowd is upset about the changes being discussed without their involvement.

The meeting comes just a day after CPS revealed it will use enrollment instead of academic performance in deciding which schools to shut down. 

Although Ames’s academic performance is higher than many other public schools, Ames is considered less than half utilized, according to the district’s calculation. Parents say enrollment dropped significantly this year, in part because CPS added a 7th and 8th grade class to one of Ames’ three feeder elementary schools.

But the district’s new guidelines apply only to school closures, not to the kind of shakeups Ames parents are worried about.

CPS Chief of Family and Community Engagement Phil Hampton was at the Ames meeting Thursday, but was not able to answer any questions. He says there’s a meeting scheduled next Wednesday between the Ames community and an official in the Office of Portfolio, which deals with closures and school changes more directly.