Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Public school closings protested

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        One by one, dozens of parents, students and community activists passionately pleaded with Cincinnati Public Schools board members Monday night to rethink a $112.2 million plan to replace and upgrade buildings.

        They argued the changes would disrupt bonds students have formed with teachers and other students, force parents to enroll students in less than desirable schools and devastate neighborhoods. More than 400 people attended Mondaynight's board meeting at the district's headquarters in Corryville.

        The plan, announced Wednesday, proposes that 12 schools be closed and five be built. If approved by the board, more than 8,000 students would be affected.

        “The school board proposes to close three schools in Over-the-Rhine, one of Cincinnati's poorest neighborhoods,” said Tree Mosolf of Over-the-Rhine.

        “Our poor, who have always had the lowest priority and had the worst schools, will now lose their community schools. The school board claims it will build two new schools, but has not said when and where, making their promise ring hollow and sound empty.”

        Responding to concerns of Over-the-Rhine advocates, Superintendent Steven Adamowski gave his word that no school in the neighborhood will be closed until students there are placed at other schools. Dr. Adamowski said the three buildings — Rothenberg, Vine and Washington Park — need to be replaced.

        Several teachers also criticized administrators for cutting $8.6 million since school began in August. The figure, revealed in a survey by the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers (CFT), also found that 75 teaching positions, 32 instructor assistants and 18.5 other personnel have been cut.

        Teachers said the latest round of cuts, on the heels of $20 million in cuts last spring, have been very disruptive and resulted in teacher teams being reorganized and classes combined, said CFT President Tom Mooney.

        District spokeswoman Jan Leslie said 34 teaching posi tions and support staff have been cut. But those teachers and staffers were given positions at other schools. She said the $8.6 million in cuts resulted from declining enrollment in the 44,560-student district.

        The board also accepted the superintendent's recommendation that Bond Hill and Windsor schools be closed at the end of the school year. They will be redesigned and reopened with new staff.


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