Sunday, May 16, 1999

Surgery on the schools

Pressure on to perform with less

The incinnati Enquirer

Jessie Evans, 17, works on an algebra problem at Taft High School.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        It was supposed to be a pep talk — Cincinnati Public Schools leaders invited 60 of their closest friends to a community breakfast in January to rally support for a tax increase. But by the time the last doughnut disappeared, Superintendent Steven Adamowski knew it would never work.

        People wanted better results for less money, the community leaders stressed, and they wouldn't support a tax increase unless they started seeing improvement in the struggling, 47,200-student district.

        That sentiment prompted the superintendent to deliver a devastating recommendation to the school board: Officials should cut $20 million from their 1999-2000 budget to show a doubting public that CPS is serious about raising achievement.

        The recommendation created intense anxiety in schools.

  Citizens have several chances to voice their opinions about Cincinnati Public Schools' $360 million 1999-2000 budget proposal.
  The school board will host a public hearing 5-6:30 p.m. Monday at district headquarters, 2651 Burnet Ave., Corryville.
  Public comment also will be accepted at the board's 7 p.m. meeting May 24 at district headquarters.
  The board must approve a budget by June 30.
        Schools were asked to shoulder half the cuts, which translated into a drop of $180 per student. The other half will come from central services, such as transportation and salaries.

        The cuts meant different things for different schools — bigger class sizes, fewer classroom and office supplies, reduced extracurricular activities and fewer counselors, tutors and librarians. School board members also approved the layoffs of 77 teachers, and reassigned another 14.

        But instead of just dealing with budget cuts, schools also face a half dozen new, and sometimes costly, initiatives CPS officials have adopted to boost pupil performance and restore public faith in the district.

        Today, the Enquirer examines how three schools — Taft High School, Bramble Elementary School and Carthage Paideia Academy — have handled the cuts while fielding a constant stream of new reforms.

        At Taft, the cuts and reforms are just two more challenges in a school constantly struggling with students' social problems. At Carthage and Bramble, the cuts will diminish programs related to tutoring, and outreach to parents.

        Enquirer reporters will revisit the three schools through the year to see how the cuts and reforms continue to affect students.

- Surgery on the schools
Cuts and reforms: 'This is an issue of survival'
Bramble parents losing their contact point
Carthage children wil get less indivdual attention
Taft's first problem: Getting students to show up

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