Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Board refuses to hire consultant for schools

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Proposals to hire a private company to plan and implement the redesign of four Cincinnati public high schools failed to get support from the Board of Education on Monday.

        The board did not approve contacts with America's Choice that would have allowed the Washington-D.C. based firm to begin working with teachers and staff at Aiken, Taft, Western Hills and Withrow high schools.

        The company consults with schools and provides curriculum and special training for teachers.

Details wanted

               “It bothers me as to where we are,” board member Catherine Ingram said.

        She and other board members said they want more details about exactly what America's Choice will do for the district.

        Board President Rick Williams said there needs to be more discussion before the contracts — which total $340,000 — are approved.

        “My concern is what are we paying for and what are they doing?” Mr. Williams said.

        The delay could hamper district plans to open an information technology program at Taft and new college preparatory programs at Aiken.

        “We are on a very tight schedule for Aiken and Taft,” Superintendent Steven Adamowski said. “Their units spread the academics out over two years and let students work on it over time.” Officials had hoped America's Choice could start work here in April.

        Mr. Adamowski said the district will not adopt the entire America's Choice plan for schools. It will instead learn from the company's expertise in creating small high school environments.

Preparatory schools
The district is redesigning these schools into “preparatory academies” where ninth- and 10th-graders will focus on the basics of reading, writing, math and science.

               Students will then be promoted to the “senior institute” of their choice for 11th and 12th grades. The institutes specialize in such subjects as information technology, university preparation and vocational education.

        Aiken and Taft would open in August as new high schools under this plan. Taft would offer a senior institute in information technology.


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