School board approves plan for programs, facilities
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
The Cleveland Board of Education has approved a plan for the future of District academic programs and facilities.
The board voted 9-0 Tuesday to adopt the plan after the District spent months holding community meetings and collecting feedback. Under the plan, CMSD will:
- Consolidate Glenville and Martin Luther King Jr. high schools at Glenville. The plan calls for sprucing up the building, strengthening academics and adding career-technical programs that respond to demand in the job market.
- Consolidate four high schools -- East Tech, New Tech East, Jane Addams Business Careers Center and Washington Park Environmental Studies -- at East Tech. The plan will, among other things, combine a culinary program from Jane Addams and agriculture program at Washington Park with similar programs at East Tech. Students will travel from East Tech to Washington Park to use a greenhouse and other facilities that will remain available for use, as will students from Rhodes School of Environmental Studies on the West Side.
- Phase out and close Design Lab Early College High School.
- Build a new Lincoln-West Campus, home to the Lincoln-West School of Global Studies and Lincoln-West School of Science and Health. The project will be part of continuing modernization program funded by the state and a local bond issue. Since 2002, CMSD has built or substantially renovated nearly 50 buildings.
- Move Whitney M. Young High School’s gifted and talented program to a new John F. Kennedy Campus that will open next school year.
- Close four K-8 schools – Case, Iowa-Maple, Michael R. White and Willow.
- Consolidate two K-8 schools -- Clark and Walton – in a new building. The District also will build a new Marion C. Seltzer and renovate Joseph M. Gallagher.
At CEO Eric Gordon’s request, the board postponed for at least a year a proposal to close Collinwood High School and include it in the consolidation with Glenville and Martin Luther King Jr. He also withdrew a recommendation to phase out and close New Tech West High School.
Neighborhood leaders had protested the recommendation to close Collinwood, which once held more than 3,000 students but now has barely more than 200. Gordon called on them to form a Friends of Collinwood High School group that will, among other things, develop a manufacturing pathway to train students for high paying, in-demand jobs. He also is asking them to drive efforts to recruit and retain students and find users who will fill excess space and help restore the building to status as a neighborhood anchor.
Councilman Michael Polensek and Jamar Doyle, executive director of the nonprofit Greater Collinwood Development Corp., thanked school officials and said they accepted the challenge.
“Our community is ready to work with you,” Doyle said.
Polensek and Doyle asked for more than a year to make the plan work. Gordon acknowledged the difficulty but said he set the timetable for at least a year to keep the work on track and ensure "meaningful progress."
The decision to withdraw the New Tech West recommendation took into account academic performance that is better than that of neighboring schools and the lack of options for relocating the program.
Several recommendations regarding K-8 schools were changed after community meetings in the spring.
CMSD is trying to address a huge surplus of empty seats, particularly on the East Side. The District has been working since spring to develop a long-term plan that maximizes use of limited resources, puts more students in higher performing schools and modernized buildings and delivers on a promise, made in The Cleveland Plan, to give every child access to a quality education.
The District used the community meetings to share data reflecting academic quality, enrollment trends and forecasts, and building use and conditions across the city. Recommendations reflected that data and the feedback.
Gordon and school board members thanked the community for providing passionate input on difficult decisions.
"We have people who demonstrated they care," Gordon said. "I can listen to that all day long."
The school board and the Bond Accountability Commission had recommended that CMSD revisit its five-year-old building plan based on current neighborhood population and enrollment patterns, changes in academic programming and rising construction costs. The commission is an independent watchdog created to monitor the building modernization program.
Learn more about the District's school planning at qualityschoolsforCLEkids.org.