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Cleveland Metropolitan School District planning process is underway

PHOTO BY CHUCK HOVEN
Thursday, April 11, 2019; Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Citywide Analysis for Long Term Planning, Garrett Morgan High School, 4016 Woodbine Avenue: Cleveland Metropolitan School District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon explains how the school district will include public comments in its long-term planning process.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District planning process is underway

by Chuck Hoven

   The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) held a series of public meetings in April as part of its Citywide Analysis for Long Term Planning. Residents and stakeholders were also invited to provide feedback online at QualitySchoolsforCLEkids.org. 

   CMSD CEO Eric Gordon outlined the schedule for the planning process. He indicated that the data and public comments would be analyzed in May and June with the Board of Education expected to vote on a plan for K-8 schools in June and a plan for high schools in September or October. Gordon cited uncertainty about the impact of Say Yes to Education on high school enrollment as well as yet to be determined federal and state funding for school construction as reasons for the delay in the vote on the high school portion of the plan.

   Residents and stakeholders in attendance at the public meetings were given a Long Term School Plan document for their region and a Citywide Analysis User Guide. For the purposes of planning, the school district is divided up with three regions on the West Side and three regions on the East Side.

   The three regions on the West Side are: Near West, West and Southwest. 

   The Near West Region consists of the following neighborhood statistical planning areas: Tremont, Ohio City, Detroit Shoreway, Cudell Edgewater, and West Boulevard.

   The West Region consists of the Stockyards, Clark Fulton, Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn statistical planning areas.

   The Southwest Region consists of the Jefferson, Bellaire Puritas, Kamm’s and Hopkins statistical planning areas.

   The Long Term School Plan documents for each region contain a wealth of information on five areas CMSD is highlighting: Academic ratings of individual schools, enrollment and school choice, program viability and building use and condition.

   In the planning document the district looks at both individual schools and the region as a whole and analyzes trends in enrollment and academic performance.

   Analysis of data also includes a map of where the school aged student population lives in each region.

   In the Tremont neighborhood for example the highest concentration of students is at Tremont Pointe. The area along Scranton where Luis Munoz Marin and Buhrer Dual Language schools are located has a medium concentration of school age students. The remainder of the Tremont neighborhood has a low concentration of school age students.

   In the Ohio City neighborhood, the area where Lakeview Estates are located has the heaviest concentration of school age students. The area South of Lorain Avenue has medium concentrations of school age students. The remainder of the neighborhood has low concentrations of school age students.

   The Detroit Shoreway neighborhood has low and medium concentrations of school age students in the area north of Lorain Avenue. The area around the now closed H. Barbara Booker school on W. 67thSouth of Lorain has the highest concentration of school age students in the neighborhood.

    The Edgewater neighborhood has low concentrations of school age students.

   The Cudell and West Boulevard neighborhood have heavy concentrations of school age children throughout.

   In the West Region, the Clark Fulton, Stockyard and Brooklyn Centre neighborhoods all have high concentrations of school age students. The Old Brooklyn neighborhood has some pockets of high concentrations around Mooney and Constellation Old Brooklyn schools. The remainder of the neighborhood has medium and low concentrations of school age students.

   While much of the analysis presented looked at trends and current conditions at schools, some comments heard from participants at the meetings indicated a desire to see what could be done to increase the population at some local schools or to learn why students are choosing not to attend schools that are losing population.

   Academic Quality was not necessarily a driver for students’ reasons for attending a school. For example, Denison School which has the highest academic rating among CMSD schools in the West Region is having difficulty reaching the school district’s viability goal of having at least 360 students with its 2017-18 enrollment listed at 323 students. During the group discussion it was speculated that some students were choosing to go to newer schools in the nearby Old Brooklyn neighborhood and charter schools. There was a call to bring back Denison’s School’s gifted program to help boost the school’s population as well as to market the school better in the neighborhood.

   Other comments at the public meetings included speculation about what factors lead to a decline in school academic performance or attendance. 

   One factor mentioned was the need to examine the school climate – the relationship between administrators and teachers—as a factor in academic quality and enrollment choices. One measure mentioned as worth looking at was the turnover rate for the teaching staff, with longevity of teaching tenure at a school as an indication of good school climate.

   In some neighborhoods with few school age children, the speculation was that the lack of housing that was affordable to low income families was the issue that needed addressing.

   Another issue raised was the importance of extracurricular activity offerings in attracting students to a school and maintaining enrollment. It was suggested that CMSD lobby the City of Cleveland to fully fund Comprehensive Extracurricular Activities Program at the amount originally promised when a tax break was given to the Browns’ Stadium. 

   Also, a number of people mentioned they thought that for many students, high school was too early a time to be choosing a specialization. They called for more comprehensive high schools with a wide range of academic and extracurricular offerings. The critique of specialty schools included a comment that a student in a specialty school that wanted to participate in a sport not offered at that school would have to go to their home school to participate after their specialty school let out for the day. An example given at the meeting showed that with school dismissal time and travel time – this became an impossible task for a student at one local school.

   It was also suggested that more volunteers could help schools compete for students. It was suggested that CMSD make it easier for volunteers by offering background checks at the individual schools.

   At the meeting at Garrett Morgan, Eric Gordon did reveal to the Plain Pressthat Garett Morgan School will be moving to the new West Side High School Building at W. 46thand Detroit Avenue. He said the current plan is to use the Garrett Morgan building as swing space for Lincoln West students while a new school is built for Lincoln West.

   At each of the public meetings participants broke into groups, and there was no reporting out to the main body. What the overall public sentiment at the meetings was thus hard to determine.

   With the future of individual schools on the line through this planning process, CEO Gordon promised additional public meetings prior to the school board vote to share the district’s analysis with the public. He also said that the district was willing to send representatives to talk to smaller groups such as block clubs. 

Editor’s Note:  LONG TERM SCHOOL PLANNING MEETINGS DATES:Cleveland Metropolitan School District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon will present recommendations for long term planning for K-8 schools in Cleveland at a series of public meetings. The meeting for the West Region, which includes the Clark Fulton, Stockyard, Brooklyn Centre and Old Brooklyn statistical planning areas, will be on May 15that 6 p.m. at Max Hayes High School, 2211 W. 65thStreet. The meeting for the Southwest Region, which includes Jefferson, Bellaire Puritas, Kamms and Hopkins statistical planning areas, will be held on May 28that 6 p.m. at John Marshall High School, 3952 W. 140th. The meeting for the Near West Region, which includes the Cudell, Detroit Shoreway, Ohio City and Tremont statistical planning areas, will be on Saturday, June 1, at 1:30 p.m. at Garrett Morgan High School, 4016 Woodbine Ave. To view the Citywide Analysis on the schools or provide feedback to the planners visit QualitySchoolsforCLEkids.org or call 216-838-0405 to speak to an engagement team specialist.

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