When The Plan for Transforming Cleveland’s Schools took effect two years ago, CEO Eric Gordon and the Cleveland Board of Education promised citizens that children in every neighborhood in the city would have access to a quality education.
But where students learn plays a role in how well they learn. That is why fully transforming Cleveland’s public school system from top to bottom also means providing students with quality buildings suitable for a 21st Century education.
CMSD’s new master facilities plan was drafted with that connection in mind.
The facilities plan, which the Board of Education approved in June, calls for building up to 22 schools and refurbishing 20 to 23 others.
Projects are contingent on voters approving a November ballot issue that authorizes $200 million in bonds for construction and a half-mill property tax for maintenance. The state would add more than $2 for every $1 that the District contributes to construction.
The plan continues a badly needed modernization campaign that the District and state launched after the gym roof at the former East High collapsed 14 years ago.
Since then, CMSD has built 34 schools and fully renovated seven others. New homes for John Marshall High School, Max S. Hayes High School and Cleveland School of the Arts are under construction and scheduled to be ready next year.
If voters approve Issue 4 in November, property owners will pay no more than they have for a bond issue that was passed in 2001.
Aligned with the District’s portfolio strategy, the revised plan will ensure that excellent learning environments are within reach no matter where families live.
CMSD does not propose to add buildings. The new schools would replace and consolidate larger, obsolete structures and eliminate seats that are no longer needed.The projects would provide CMSD with the flexibility to continue creating new and innovative school models, like the new Bard High School Early College Cleveland, Cleveland High School for Digital Arts, E³agle Academy and PACT (Problem-based Academy of Critical Thinking), all of which opened this year.
At the same time, the distribution of facilities projects would ensure that neighborhoods across the District have access to modern schools. That would be true regardless of whether reform draws students back to the District or enrollment falls and downsizing becomes necessary.
The District is working to maintain the community’s faith that CMSD has the right academic plan and the right facilities plan to fully transform its schools and school communities. Another factor of interest to residents is that school construction also would bring jobs to the community.Toward that end, the Board of Education has adopted the city’s Community Benefits Agreement for construction projects. The agreement will place priority on hiring city residents, minorities, women and small businesses.