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Vitale: There Are No Plans to Change Ames Into a Military School

By  Victoria Johnson and Ted Cox | December 19, 2012 5:48pm | Updated on December 20, 2012 8:44am

 Ames Middle School sign announcing community meeting about converting the school to a military school, Nov. 1, 2012.
Ames Middle School sign announcing community meeting about converting the school to a military school, Nov. 1, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

LOGAN SQUARE — Parents of Ames Middle School students were overjoyed Wednesday to hear that there will be no military academy moving to the school.

Chicago Board of Education President David J. Vitale said at the monthly board meeting that there were no plans to move the Marine Military Math and Science Academy, now on the Near West Side, into the Ames building at 1920 N. Hamlin Ave.

Last month, about 100 teachers and community activists crowded into an Ames classroom to voice their disapproval of the proposal to add the seventh and eighth grades to the Marine Academy and move the program to the Ames building.

Earlier this month, CPS announced that it would recommend adding the two grades to Marine, which is now ninth through 12th grade. Parents were concerned that the board would announce Wednesday to go through with the rest of the proposal and move the school to Ames next year.

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) had said he supported the plan, arguing that military schools often have higher academic achievement, but parents were frustrated because Maldonado was not seeking any community input.

One Ames parent, Gayle Storm, even said to the board Wednesday, "We need help to keep him out of this."

But Chicago Board of Education President Vitale repeatedly assured the Ames parents that there were no plans to make Ames a military school.

"Oh my God, I'm so glad that everything was worth it," Ames mother and Local School Council member Alivette Alicea said, referring to the protests against the proposal. "Ames is going to continue being Ames."

Alicea and other members of the Local School Council were celebrating at the school Wednesday afternoon. They were joined by principal Turon Ivy, who said he, too, was happy to hear the news.

"That brings great news to us — not just to the school, but also to the community," he said, adding that there was still a lot to be done to improve the school.

"That's our first hurdle. Our second is to improve the enrollment here and our programming," he said.

According to CPS's last utilization report, Ames is only at about half capacity and is among the "underutilized" schools leaders have said may eventually be closed or consolidated to save on building costs.

Still, Ivy said that he will be able to continue with his efforts to improve the school and not be forced to move on after only one school year.

"It's good to know that the hard work that's gone into the school has paid off, and it's good to know our voice has actually been heard," he said.