District plans call for closing Halle Cleveland Learning Center
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, May 2005) Halle Cleveland Learning Center is one of the schools the Cleveland school administration has recommended for closing this year. The school is located on Halle Street between W. 82nd and W. 73rd, just south of Clark Avenue. Since the school reopened in 1997, the school has served as a haven for students who have a difficult time in a traditional school.

When the Learning Center was first proposed, Dr. Livesteen Carter, the district’s then chief operating officer for education,  said the school would be for “the little darlings that just can’t sit still.” She termed the target population “savable youngsters, who sort of get lost in a regular school. They seemingly need more attention.” She noted the school was not for hard core students who commit offenses warranting suspension but for students who teachers just can’t deal with in a regular classroom setting – students who are often suspended for minor classroom disruptions, are over age for their grade, or have attendance problems.

Gerie Taylor, president of the parent/student organization at Halle, spoke at the public meeting held at East Tech on April 11th.  She said some of the students were crying over the proposal to close their school. She said the students know they receive the extra attention they need at Halle, which she described as “a beautiful facility”. She says students there have worked with the staff to improve their behavior.

The district’s proposal calls for Halle and its east side counterpart, Jesse Owens,  to move to Margaret Ireland School in the Hough neighborhood.

Taylor hopes the district will reconsider. She says Halle just completed installing handicapped access to the facility. She said parents, students and school staff worked hard this year on an educational plan for next year. She considers the neighborhood and the school environment safe for students. While she hopes that Halle will remain open, she said that if the school does move to Margaret Ireland, she hopes it will remain a separate school from Jesse Owens, so the staff can continue to work with parents and students without the distraction of another student body with its own set of different problems.

Halle, originally an elementary school with a capacity for 425 students, was slated for closing in the March 1995 school closings. The school was rescued when Ward 18 Councilman Jay Westbrook promised residents “he would move heaven and earth”  to reopen the building as a school. Westbrook worked with Cleveland Tomorrow and the Cleveland School District to marshall resources and a new program to the building. The school reopened in 1997 after Cleveland Tomorrow and the corporate community donated over $600,000 to the rehab effort. Cleveland Tomorrow then contributed additional dollars to help with the start-up costs and the first three years of operation of the school.

Due to ward boundary changes, the school is now located in Ward 17 served by Councilman Matt Zone.

The Cleveland Board of Education will decide at its May meeting whether or not to close Halle school. The district has not revealed any other plans for the school building. If the district decides to sell the building, under state law a charter school would have the first option to purchase the building.


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