Most Chicago kids start summer break in June, but many Logan Square parents have no idea what middle school their children will attend in the fall.
Earlier this year, the Chicago Public School Board voted to convert Ames Middle School into the Marine Math and Science Academy. The decision came despite neighborhood opposition. Emma Segura, a parent whose son would have attended Ames next year, says 26th Ward Ald. Roberto Maldonado and CPS went ahead with the plan without consulting with residents first.
“The thing that I hate about it most is that he says ‘Oh, I’m listening to the community,’” Segura said. “No he didn’t. The CPS members didn’t either. We fought up to the end. They won obviously because they have more power than the community does.”
Maldonado has not returned calls for comment.
Spokesman Joel Hood maintains that the conversion will allow CPS to be “committed to working with the community to expand high quality education options in Logan Square,” according to an official statement to the media.
With the conversion taking effect next academic year, nearby Kelvyn Park High School will teach grades seven through 12 to account for the student displacement. Kelvyn Park already serves more than 800 students. Because the Marine academy has a selective admissions process, not all 500-plus students at Ames will be able to attend, with the majority of the students likely heading to Kelvyn Park. Last year, CPS cut more than $3 million from the high school, leaving parents wondering if it will be ready to accommodate the significantly larger student body.
“Some of these parents are very worried because all of these schools are overpopulated,” Segura said. “They have more than 36 kids in one classroom. I want my kids to have an education.”
Students will not be the only ones displaced by the conversion. Ames teachers say CPS will likely replace them as well. Thomas Schreck, a math teacher at the middle school for the past 13 years, is bracing for the worst.
“Unless enrollment increases, they won’t have enough positions for all the teachers here,” Schreck said.
Ames students and parents held a candlelight vigil Tuesday to say goodbye to the middle school as they know it. As parents consider where to send their children next year, Segura says the neighborhood will be left with one question.
“Why are they doing this to a community school? We didn’t want to lose Ames,” Segura said.