Plato Learning Academy seeks approval for additional campus

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Parents and administrators from Plato Learning Academy last week urged Chicago Public Schools to approve expansion plans for the overcrowded school.

The school wants to lease from the Archdiocese of Chicago the former St. Martin De Porres facilities at 116 N. LeClaire Ave. (the corner of LeClaire and Washington) to house 5th to 8th grades.

Plato, currently operating at the Greek Orthodox Church on 5545 W. Harrison St., and serving more than 300 students, needs more space. In November 2009, CPS gave the school permission to add grades 6 , 7 and 8.

Limited space has restricted the campus from adding a new kindergarten class, said Principal Mellodie Brown.

Testifying Wednesday at a hearing set to consider the school’s request, Brown said specialized teachers have to move “classroom to classroom on a cart to provide instruction to students.”

She said there was always a plan to build a new school adjacent to the current facilities but nothing has manifested.

“I’m not sure what happened with the proposal, in regards to the land itself,” said Brown. “So we had to start looking for another location.”

Rev. Lewis Flowers, chairman of the Westside Ministers Coalition and a parent of a Plato student, also testified at the hearing.

American Quality Schools, which operates Plato – a 2010 Renaissance school – will cover the costs of the lease agreement, a CPS spokesperson confirmed.

Plato is accepting applications for the next school year; once a grade level is full, then potential students will be placed on a waitlist.

The Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on the proposal June 22.

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