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City Plans to Officially Close Marine Academy, Make Ames Move Final

By Paul Biasco | December 2, 2015 6:10am | Updated on December 3, 2015 10:02am
 Protesters march in front of the Marine Math and Science Academy in 2013 before an announcement from officials that the military high school would move to the Ames Middle School building.
Protesters march in front of the Marine Math and Science Academy in 2013 before an announcement from officials that the military high school would move to the Ames Middle School building.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

LOGAN SQUARE — Although there have been no teachers and enrolled students at Marine Math and Science Academy for more than a year, the school is still technically open.

That could soon change, as the Chicago Board of Education is moving to officially close the school at 145 S. Campbell Ave.

The muddiness of the issues is directly tied to CPS's vow not to close any school for five years after shuttering 50 schools in 2013.

In late 2013, after the big school closing debate, the Chicago Board of Education approved plans to convert Logan Square's Ames Middle School into a selective enrollment military academy and expand the school to include ninth through 12th grades.

At the time, Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) said Ames was under-enrolled and that the Marine academy better prepares students for college and professions. 

That move meant shifting students from Marine Math and Science Academy into the Ames building, 1920 N. Hamlin Ave.

The former Ames is now known as the Marine Leadership Academy at Ames.

The original Marine Academy at 145 S. Campbell Ave. used to be shared with Phoenix Military Academy. Phoenix Military Academy is the only school at that location now.

Although the school has no students, CPS's budget documents indicate there were $472,537 in expenditures for the 2015 fiscal year.

That included two teachers whose salaries cost the district $203,752 and one education support personnel member for $61,448.

The district OK'd spending $104,682 on the school for the fiscal 2016 budget with $94,719 of that approved for "property-equipment."

Any hope of moving back into the old building appears to be lost for students who made the move following most teachers.

The principal of Marine Leadership Academy, the name of the school that replaced Ames Middle School, was removed from his role following an investigation in July.

The closure is one of six moves CPS announced Tuesday, on what was an already chaotic news day following the firing of Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.

In the statement released Tuesday, CPS said Marine Math and Science Academy is still operating as an open enrollment school that doesn't serve any specific neighborhood.

"Maintaining a school with no students diverts resources from other schools," the statement read.

There will be three community meetings to discuss the closure, as is required by law.

The first will be held at Phoenix Military High School, 145 S. Campbell Ave., 5:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 7.

The second will be 5:30-8:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at 145 S. Campbell Ave. and the third will be a public hearing at CPS central office, 42 W. Madison St. at 8:30 p.m. Jan. 27.

Also up for a vote by the Chicago Board of Education in February will be the following proposed actions:

• Consolidation of Austin Polytechnical Academy, Austin Business and Entrepreneurship, and VOISE Academy, and Boundary Change of Frederick A. Douglass Academy

• Consolidation of Mary Mapes Dodge Renaissance Elementary Academy and Morton School of Excellence

• Co-location of John Spry Community School with Maria Saucedo Elementary Scholastic Academy and Telpochcalli Elementary School

• Co-location of KIPP Elementary School with Orr Academy High School

• Closure of Moses Montefiore Special Elementary School Due to Zero Student Enrollment

"During the past few months, we have engaged LSCs, parents and principals throughout the city about how to best modify schools so that they align with the needs of families and communities," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said in the release announcing the proposed closures.

"Community input has played an important role in informing these proposed actions, and we believe these modifications will allow us to better use our limited resources to meet students’ needs."

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