THE LOOP — Citing referendum results which came down against shifting Ames Middle School to a military academy, parents implored the Board of Education Wednesday to reconsider the change, but officials gave no indication they would alter their position.
"For months, the Board of Education and President [David] Vitale have asked Ames to show them proof" the community resists the change, said Ames parent Christina Torres. Brandishing the 69 percent support for maintaining Ames as a neighborhood school shown in the primary referendum earlier this month, she added, "We are asking for them to reconsider their vote and to choose another facility in which to place Marine Academy."
Torres and attorney Joel Monarch, who helped local residents set up the nonbinding referendum, presented the vote results — 308 to 141 in favor of leaving Ames intact, in eight precincts surrounding the school — to the board at its Wednesday meeting.
"We would like Ames to remain a middle school," Monarch said. He asked the board to put the matter on its agenda for April and reconsider the transition.
Yet the board did not comment on that request Wednesday, and Chicago Public Schools officials signaled no shift in its position, repeating a statement issued last week.
"Chicago Public Schools remains committed to working with the community to expand high-quality education options in Logan Square," said CPS spokesman Joel Hood. "By bringing the proven Service Leadership Academic model to Ames, the school will be strengthened academically, offering another strong choice to parents and students while also helping meet the increased demand for a military education."
"I see this as nothing more than a facilities land grab where the mayor and Ald. Robert Maldonado are coming into a fantastic facility that's been an asset to the community, an asset to our children," said Local School Council community representative Alex Huebner during a protest outside the CPS Central Office before the meeting. "They have been nothing but disrespectful to our LSC, our parents, our teachers and most of all to our students.
"Over the course of the last two years, we have been under attack by the Central Office and by our alderman, Roberto Maldonado," Huebner added. "His intentions have been to turn our community school into a military academy, basically transfer Marine Math and Science there, against the wishes of the community."
Torres said Marine Academy students in camouflage fatigues knocked on doors in the community trying to win support for the conversion ahead of the referendum. Yet despite what she referred to as Maldonado's "failed attempt to intimidate voters," the majority of voters stood firm behind Ames.
Maldonado did not respond to requests for comment.
"We hope to get this changed," Torres said, adding that the community would continue its efforts to maintain Ames even if the board took no action to rescind its vote.