Sunday, June 03, 2001

School improvements at selling point for city's home sales

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In spite of its low academic rating from the state and declining enrollment, Cincinnati Public Schools is nonetheless a recruiting tool in a plan to boost the city's 35 percent homeownership rate.

        City schools, which have lost 7,400 students since 1991, often are blamed for Cincinnati's 9 percent population loss since 1990.

        Several dozen Greater Cincinnati real estate agents recently attended a presentation by city officials to try to boost home ownership.

        More than 150 agents participated in a program sponsored by the city and the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors. Half of the agents applied to become “Cincinnati Real Estate Ambassadors,” who will tour schools and neighborhoods, similar to a program last done in 1997. Fifty-two agents will be chosen to two-year appointments.

        The schools, agents say, have a lot of which to be proud. And this took place in early May, before Kilgour Elementary in Mount Lookout was selected as the only urban school of 264 Blue Ribbon winners nationally.

        “Some of our problem is marketing,” says Jan Leslie, spokeswoman for schools superintendent Steven Adamowski.

        Ms. Leslie also cites top academic scores at the district's Walnut Hills High School, the School for Creative and Performing Arts and Clark Montessori High School.

        Those three schools already attract 52 tuition-paying students from outside the district. Recent 12th-grade proficiency tests in Cincinnati were 12 percentage points higher than the state's other urban districts.

        Agents are impressed when they learn about the city schools.

        “There are a lot of good schools and a lot of good things going on,” says Dale Weisker, president of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

        Mr. Adamowski, City Manager John Shirey and Mayor Charlie Luken were among city officials who addressed agents.

        “You set a tone about people's attitudes in Cincinnati,” Mr. Luken told the real estate agents.


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