Logan Square parents and community members are launching their final push against Ames Middle School being turned into a "Marine-affiliated" school. The Chicago Board of Education signed off on the conversion plan last month.
Starting this Saturday, Ames stakeholders plan to go door knocking to help get community members registered to vote in the upcoming primary election. They want as many people as possible to weigh in on a non-binding referendum set to appear on the March 18 ballot in eight city precincts near Ames. The referendum question asks: Should Ames Middle School be maintained as a neighborhood school, rather than being converted into a military high school?"
"This is going to be our last fight, so hopefully we'll win," Ames parent Emma Segura told Progress Illinois.
Segura said she hopes that a vote on the non-binding referendum would change the minds of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials regarding the future of the Logan Square school.
"CPS and the board said they were going to listen to the community and to the kids from the school," Segura said. "I want them to really listen and pay attention to what the kids want and what the community wants."
Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) was first to submit the military-conversion idea to the Chicago Board of Education, and Ames parents and Logan Square residents have voiced opposition about the proposal for two years, citing concerns over the possibility of losing their neighborhood school and the lack of community input on the plan. Maldonado, however, argues that he has large community support for the plan.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS officials announced at the end of October that Ames would become a "Marine-affiliated school," serving 7th through 12th graders starting next school year. The Chicago Board of Education approved the school conversion plan in December. Ames, which may be renamed as Marine Leadership Academy, will see a change in academic focus and have an open enrollment to all CPS students.
Those against the conversion plan are also worried that it will lead to overcrowding at Ames' feeder schools, which are set to take in students who do not wish to participate in the new military program.