Board makes decision on school closings
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, June 2005) At its May 17, 2005 meeting, the Cleveland Board of Education made its final decisions on school closings and consolidations to help balance a projected budget deficit and realign schools in light of declining K-8 student population. A number of changes will occur in the area served by the Plain Press.
Montessori moves to Tremont
Faced with opposition from the Rhodes High School community and the Tremont community to plans to use Tremont as swing space during the Rhodes High rehabilitation, the Cleveland Board of Education offered a creative solution – Tremont School would serve as the new home for the Montessori program. The move allows the board to move the Montessori program at H. Barbara Booker and the east side Montessori program at Dike to Tremont to form a new Pre-K-9 Montessori program. Students in grades Pre-K to grade three, currently attending Tremont School, will be allowed to enroll in the new Montessori School. The district estimates that 158 of the 501 students currently at Tremont School are residents of the Tremont neighborhood.
H. Barbara Booker, on W. 67th just south of Lorain Avenue, has 313 students enrolled. Dike currently has 342 students. The Dike students will have the option to stay at Dike, which will remain open as a neighborhood elementary arts school. The district believes that Tremont School, with a reported capacity of 1,050 students, will offer sufficient space for the Montessori program to expand and draw new students from throughout the city.
H. Barbara Booker will remain open as a neighborhood K-8 school to help alleviate overcrowding in nearby schools.
Donna Bennett of the H. Barbara Booker Parent Teacher’s Association thanked the board for finding a way to join the two Montessori schools into one building in a central location like Tremont. She expressed a desire to keep the H. Barbara Booker name, significant to the Montessori program. She also wanted to make sure equipment, such as televisions and computers that were purchased by the PTA or through grants would go with the school to the new site. CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett gave her assurance that this would be the case.
Booker PTA’s Bennett then expressed concern that Montessori-trained teachers staff the Montessori program at the new site. She hoped that all the Montessori-trained teachers currently at Booker and Dike would remain with the program, noting that the school plan composed by parents and school staff called for Montessori trained teachers. She said the program would not work without them. CEO Byrd-Bennett responded that teachers would be assigned to the school by seniority, according to the rules of the Cleveland Teachers Union contract. She said training teachers in the Montessori method would be subject to availability of funds.
Kentucky Elementary School, on W. 38th just south of Franklin, will remain a neighborhood K-5 elementary school for one more year. Next year, in June of 2006, the district plans to reassign Kentucky students to Dunbar, Scranton, Gallagher and Waverly. Kentucky will then serve as a swing site for students from Buhrer Elementary School until the construction of a new Buhrer is completed. Buhrer School is located off Scranton just south of Clark Avenue.
However, the newcomer program currently housed at Kentucky Elementary School will move to Gallagher School at the end of this school year (June 2005). The move allows the formation of a K-8 newcomer program all in one school, as Gallagher currently houses middle school students. Students currently enrolled in bilingual classes at Kentucky will go to either Scranton or Gallagher at the end of this school year.
Halle School, between W. 73 and W. 82, just south of Clark, will be permanently closed. The grade 6-12 students currently attending the school will be reassigned to the Option Complex at Margaret Ireland. Students from Jesse Owens will also be reassigned to the Option Complex where the district plans to consolidate the three options schools in one building. Margaret Ireland is located at 1800 E. 63rd. Option schools were created by the Cleveland Municipal School District as locations where students who have problems coping at a traditional school, or students who have behavioral problems that need work, can be sent on a temporary basis until they are ready to return to a traditional school. The schools are equipped with additional resources and smaller class sizes to meet the special needs of these students.
Movement to K-8
In addition to the above changes, the district will continue its transition to Kindergarten to eighth grade (K-8) schools. The following schools in the area served by the Plain Press are slated to move to K-8: Joseph Gallagher, Watterson-Lake, Almira, Marion Seltzer, Buhrer, Clark, Luis Munoz Marin, Orchard, Walton, Denison, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Dunbar, Scranton, and Waverly. Some will become full K-8 schools immediately, others will transition by adding one grade per year.
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