Our Portfolio Strategy began in 2006, when two major partners—the Cleveland Foundation and the George Gund Foundation—expressed interest in the start-up and growth of high-performing district schools. These schools will operate in CMSD under a special memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Cleveland Teachers Union (CTU). This agreement includes the granting of increased autonomy at the building level for hiring and placement of staff, for changes in the school calendar, and for the curriculum in each of the proposed schools.
The two Foundations invested over $50 million to launch CMSD’s New & Innovative Schools, directing grant dollars toward new school start-ups, district capacity-building, strategic planning, charter school development, and related state and local policy advocacy.
The relationship with the foundations and other community and business partners extends far beyond that of a benefactor to a charity. By partnering with organizations, we are able to connect academics to the work of the real world, expose our students to varied career fields and jobs, and instill skills and attributes that will prepare them for college and life. Nearly all of the CMSD’s Portfolio Schools began in deep partnership with external organizations and currently have advisory boards.
These schools are intended to test new models of education and demonstrate that high quality schools can attract and retain students and families in Cleveland. A more diverse set of options are offered by the CMSD than ever before, including 17 new schools opened since 2006: Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, Cleveland School of Architecture and Design, Early College, MC2STEM, Design Lab, Ginn Academy, two New Tech high schools, four single-sex elementary schools, Campus International at Cleveland State University, a redesigned Max Hayes, three schools at John Marshall, two at John F. Kennedy and two at Lincoln-West. The newer district schools are steadily building enrollment and demonstrating high performance.
The CMSD is the only district in the state that has a robust partnership with high-performing charter schools based on the rigorous National Association of Charter School Authorizers’ standards. Ten charter schools are sponsored by the CMSD, one of which is co-located with a district high school and another located in a building purchased from the district.
Performance results of our New & Innovative Schools remain promising, particularly around graduation rates, college acceptance, and college retention rates. Demand for these schools is mixed, with some schools under-enrolled while others have waiting lists.