The Cincinnati Public School Board is considering a budget plan that could merge several schools, leading to a $100 million budget shortfall. This proposal has caused a stir in the community, with parents, teachers, and residents raising their concerns and frustrations.
Community Outcry at School Board Meeting
A recent school board meeting, lasting over two hours, saw many locals speak out against the school merger plans. They were particularly worried about the potential combinations of schools in neighborhoods like Walnut Hills, Avondale, and Madisonville. Dr. Charles Dillard, an 89-year-old retired physician who graduated from Frederick Douglass Elementary, spoke about the school’s long history and its importance to the area, saying it’s “more than just a building.”
Mona Jenkins, who leads the Walnut Hills Area Council, slammed the school board for not involving the community enough when making decisions. She pointed out that the people most impacted by the merging of Frederick Douglass Elementary with Evanston Academy weren’t properly told about it.
Survey Findings and Superintendent’s Reaction
The board members answered criticism about the lack of community involvement by mentioning 17 sessions they held to engage with locals. A survey from these sessions showed that more than half supported the idea of consolidating schools. Nevertheless, CPS Superintendent Iranetta Wright was taken aback by the level of concern regarding these plans and recognized the necessity for more conversations with the community.
Budget Constraints and Federal Funding
The heated debates come at a time when there are serious money problems.
The district is facing a serious financial issue as it won’t get any more money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. This fund gave around $98.6 million this school year. Without extra money from the federal government for next year, the district needs to find ways to manage its budget. This includes planning to cut spending by $22.9 million.
Specific Plans to Combine Schools
- Merging Evanston and Frederick Douglass Elementary Schools might save us close to $1.5 million on staff and bus costs.
- Putting South Avondale Elementary together with Rockdale Academy could cut our spending by about $1.4 million.
These ideas are part of a bigger strategy to fix our budget issues and also change the school district to help kids move from elementary through to high school better.
The Significance of Schools and Effects on the Community
The idea of shutting down Frederick Douglass Elementary has really hit home for people in Walnut Hills because of the school’s long history of educating Black children since before the Civil War. Local leaders are stressing just how key this school is to life in the neighborhood, and they’re worried about what merging schools would mean for everyone.
What People Think About These Changes
A big crowd of nearly 900 showed up at the school board meeting, some there in person and others online. This turnout shows that lots of folks are really into this issue and have strong feelings about it. Although some people said they’re okay with combining schools, most who spoke at the meeting didn’t like the idea at all.
What Comes Next
So far, the school board hasn’t made a final choice on whether to go ahead with joining any schools. The head of the board, Eve Bolton, says there’s going to be more talks and they’ll keep involving the community to look at every option out there. They want to make the best decisions that consider both the need to save money and what’s best educationally and historically for these areas.
Right now, the community is staying active and alert. Everyone’s pushing for a smart, open way to deal with the issues Cincinnati Public Schools are up against. We’ve got to think about money, how it affects the kids learning, and keeping our local traditions and unity.