Wednesday, December 08, 1999

Drop school change plans, teachers union asks




BY DANA DiFILIPPO
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Teachers union President Tom Mooney is urging the Cincinnati Board of Education to reject administrators' redistricting and building improvement plans.

        The plans have caused so much community outcry they threaten passage of a levy, Mr. Mooney said in a Tuesday letter to board members.

        The plans will “do great damage to this school district,” Mr. Mooney wrote. “They will drive more customers away and alienate more communities. They will probably destroy any chance of passing a levy next year.”

        The redistricting plan — released Nov. 10 — would shuffle academic programs and enrollment at 15 schools that have about 7,000 students. The plan would close one school, consolidate two others and eliminate a magnet program in the central and western parts of the city.

        The $112 million facilities plan — released Nov. 17 — would close 12 schools and build five, affecting more than 8,000 students.

        Parents have packed recent school board meetings to complain administrators ignored community input when drafting the plans.

        A board vote on the redistricting plan is set Monday. A vote on the facilities plan hasn't been scheduled; public hearings are planned.

        Mr. Mooney, head of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, charged the plans:

        • Close or “reorganize beyond recognition” six magnet programs enrolling 3,350 stu dents (Linwood, Jacobs, Quebec Heights, Shroder, Heinold and Academy of Foreign Languages).

        • Ignore the $697 million facilities master plan released last year, which included five new neighborhood schools in College Hill/Mount Airy, Westwood, Fairview/Clifton, East Price Hill and West Price Hill. All of those new schools are missing from the new recom mendations, Mr. Mooney noted.

        School board member Sally Warner responded that declining enrollment forced administrators to scale down the original plan; the district lost 2,600 students last year.

        The recommendations announced last month represent only the first phase of improvements, she said.

        • Fail to meet parents' demand for more Montessori pro grams. Ms. Warner disagreed, saying the plans actually create more Montessori spaces by moving existing Montessori programs to bigger facilities that accommodate more students.

        • Leave the district with no alternative school for chronically disruptive students.

        • Create larger schools, despite research that shows smaller schools are more effective.

       



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