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Benjamin Mays Academy to Move into Banneker Elementary

By Wendell Hutson | March 23, 2013 8:39am

ENGLEWOOD — Nyliah Neely said she plans to spend spring break thinking about what her new classroom will look like once her school relocates down the street this fall.

"I hope the walls are decorated with posters and there's no gum stuck under my seat," said 11-year-old fifth grader at Benjamin Mays Academy. "It's too bad we have to move because I like it here."

Neely is one of 308 students at Mays being relocated to Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, 6656 S. Normal Ave., which is closing as part of the school district's restructuring plan it laid out Thursday.

Mays is among 11 schools moving into the building of a closed school, and retaining its name.

The Level 3 school, which is currently on academic probation, is being moved to Banneker, also a Level 3 school, because the building has more space and better facilities, said Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for CPS. Ziegler did not immediately know what specific facilities the Banneker building possessed over Mays, but added that students currently attending Banneker would be merged into Mays.

And the Mays staff would follow its students to the new building but the Banneker staff would be displaced. No decision has been made about the future use of the Banneker building.

The decision to relocate Mays came with no input from Patricia McCann, principal of Mays.

"If I had may way I would stay here but I do not make those decision nor have I been told why we are being relocated," McCann said. "There is nothing wrong with this building although Banneker is a bigger building."

According to CPS data, Mays has 309 students and Banneker has 350.

The pending move has April Poole, 42, considering transferring her children to another school closer to her home in the South Shore community.

"It's rough around there. [Banneker] is right next to Robeson [High School] and they do a lot of shooting around there," said Poole, who has a kindergarten-age daughter, a son in fourth grade and daughter in seventh grade attending Mays. "I'll be glad when my kids graduate from school so I don't have to deal with this mess anymore."

Neely's sister, Makaliah Neely, is graduating in June from Mays and plans to attend Simeon Career Academy High School to pursue her dream of becoming a beautician.

"My brother graduated from here five years ago. A lot of my friends are upset but I am okay with the move," said Makaliah, 14.

Makaliah's mom, Kevani Neely, would have preferred to have the Banneker students move into the Mays building.

"At least they are not closing Mays. Had that happened I would have been upset," Kevani said. "But who knows what could happen five years from now when the moratorium on school closings ends."