Cleveland Metropolitan School District reveals long-term planning recommendations for K-8 schools
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, June 2019) On May 15that Max Hayes High School, Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Gordon shared his administration’s recommendations for the future of Kindergarten to grade eight programs and school buildings. The meeting was one of a series of meetings to share the plans with the public and receive feedback. Gordon says he plans to submit the recommendations to the Cleveland Board of Education at its June 9thmeeting and expects the Board of Education to vote on the recommendations at its June 25thmeeting. The plan the Board of Education comes up with will begin in the 2020-21 school year.
Gordon said CMSD has an excess of 2,500 seats in new or renovated schools on the East Side and a need for 5,000 seats in new or renovated school buildings on the West Side. One of the goals of the Long-Term School Plan is to move as many students as possible into schools that have been newly built or renovated since the school construction program began in 2002.
In the 2020-21 school year, if the Board of Education accepts the recommendations of the administration, four K-8 schools on the East Side of Cleveland will close: Willow School at 5004 Glazier Ave; Iowa Maple School at 12510 Maple Ave; Michael R. White School at 1000 E. 92ndStreet and Case School at 4050 Superior Avenue. Two of the schools recommended for closing were investment schools – Case and Michael R. Whit– which the school district had promised additional resources to turn around their academic programs following the passage of a school levy. Those efforts failed to change the failing academic ratings of the schools.
The goals of the Long-Term School Plan recommendations are to move as many students as possible into schools with high quality academic programs and new facilities. The buildings being closed are older buildings with failing academic scores on state of Ohio evaluations and declining enrollment or enrollment below the recommended building capacity.
In the West Side neighborhood served by the Plain Press, the recommendations call for consolidation of Clark and Walton schools into one school building; the consolidation of Denison and Charles A. Mooney Schools into one school building; the renovation of Joseph M. Gallagher School; a new or renovated building for Marion Seltzer School; and the relocation of Tremont Montessori School to a modernized facility. CEO Gordon said with the excess of seats in new facilities on the East Side of Cleveland, the Montessori program will most likely move East of the Cuyahoga River.
Students from Clark and Walton schools will be housed in a new school to be built on the Clark School site at 5550 Clark Avenue. Gordon said he was unsure as to whether the students would go to Walton during the construction of the new school or the former H. Barbara Booker School, or both schools. Clark School is one of the CMSD’s best performing schools with a C grade on the performance index and an A for Academic Progress within a school year. It is ranked 2nd in academic growth within a school year out the 116 CMSD and charter elementary schools in the school district. Walton School, that is being consolidated with Clark School, has an F grade on both the Performance and Academic Progress indexes. It is ranked 58thout of 116 schools in academic growth.
While the recommendation is for Denison and Charles A. Mooney to be consolidated into one new school building, a site for the new school has not been selected. While Denison School received a D grade in the State Performance Index, it received an A grade in yearly academic progress of its students. Charles A. Mooney received a D grade in both categories. Gordon said the current site of Denison school is cramped and Charles A. Mooney is near other schools in Old Brooklyn. Gordon said CMSD would like to find a site for the consolidated school, north of the bridge over Brookside Park, but the school district has not yet identified a suitable site and does own property south of the bridge.
CEO Gordon said Joseph Gallagher School at W. 65thand Franklin has been attracting a number of new students and serves many English language learners. The recommendation is that the school receive a full renovation. He said the opening of the new West Side High School should create capacity for swing space during construction. (CMSD plans to move students from Garrett Morgan to the new high school – freeing up space in that building).
Marion B. Seltzer, 1498 W. 9thStreet, is in a larger, older building and is at capacity in terms of its student population. Gordon says the recommendation is for reconstruction to provide a new facility.
Other changes called for in the CMSD recommendations include the consolidation of Kenneth Clement and Valley View Boys Leadership Academies; the consolidation of Dike School of the Arts and Bolton; and the provision of a new building for the Douglas MacArthur Girls Leadership Academy.
The plan notes that the four schools being closed – Willow, Iowa-Maple, Michael R. White and Case – serve a total of about 900 students.
The five academic programs, that are being moved or consolidated into existing modernized buildings, serve a total of 1,500 students. These are: Tremont Montessori; the consolidation of Kenneth Clement and Valley View Boys Leadership Academies; and the consolidation of Dike School of the Arts and Bolton.
The seven current schools, all on the West Side, that will end up in five new or renovated buildings, serve about 3,000 students. These are: Clark and Walton consolidated into a new building; Denison and Charles A. Mooney consolidated into a new building; renovation of Joseph M. Gallagher; new building for Marion C. Seltzer; and a new building for the Douglas MacArthur Girls Leadership Academy.
The school district makes the assumption that the consolidation of academically poorly performing schools like Walton and Charles A. Mooney with better academically performing schools like Clark and Denison will result in fewer students attending D or F rated K-8 schools. Teachers attending the Long-Term Planning Meetings wondered if the staffs from the more successful schools would be kept intact in the consolidation process. CEO Gordon said the staffing of the consolidated buildings would be governed by the contract with the Cleveland Teachers Union.
Gordon also noted that the new construction, renovations, and consolidations will not begin until the 2020-2021 school year. This, Gordon said, will allow CMSD time next year to have two schools, being consolidated, begin to work together and do some pre-planning in anticipation of the consolidation. The delay will also allow time to work with the school communities to prepare for the transition.
When asked about the loss of students to charter schools because of movement to swing space in a different neighborhood, Gordon said that some loss is expected, but he anticipates many students will return once a new building is up and running.
When asked about the future of buildings CMSD vacates, Gordon said that buildings not being used by CMSD must be first offered to charter schools at a fair market price.
This first phase of the Long-Term School Plan involves only CMSD Kindergarten thru eighth grade schools. Public meetings to discuss plans for the CMSD high schools will be scheduled in the fall.