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Cleveland parents, leaders sound-off on school closure recommendations

Posted at 10:01 PM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 23:23:08-04

CLEVELAND — Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon hosted the second of six informational meetings, to gain further input on recommendations from the district calling for the closing of four elementary schools and the relocation, or consolidation of seven other schools.

The recommendations include the closing of Willow Elementary, Iowa-Maple Elementary, Michael R. White Elementary and Case Elementary.

Gordon said he already received push back on the recommendations from the Friends of Tremont Montessori, Tremont West Development Corporation and the Tremont community concerning the relocation of Tremont Montessori School.

"These are difficult decisions we're making," Gordon said.

"I expect that there are going to be people that are not happy, I'm going to listen to their concerns."

“We need to determine how we get more kids into higher performing schools and more modernized buildings."

Gordon said the recommendations were created after seven fact gathering community meetings, where 500 people gave their feedback.

The current series of meetings will run through June 1, with public input given to the the board of education for a June 25 vote on the recommendations, for grades Kindergarten through eighth.

Recommendations for Cleveland high schools will be considered this fall.

Cleveland Councilman Michael Polensek told News 5 the CMSD recommendations could have a big negative impact on Cleveland Northeast neighborhoods, like East Glenville.

Polensek said some parents will have to transport their children longer distance to other schools, potentially causing more families to move out of these neighborhoods.

Polensek believes Iowa Maple Elementary should be renovated and not considered for closure.

"Where are these kids going to go to school in this neighborhood, there are no other schools around here," Polensek said.

“Families are just bailing, wage earners are bailing, because they’re tired of this. They want quality schools, they want good neighborhoods, and they’re not getting it, so they're talk with their feet."

Cleveland Councilman Kevin Conwell said he will fight to keep Michael R. White Elementary open in his ward, but he said fighting for better students performance is more important than battling for buildings.

"We'll go door-to-door, we'll talk with the school, we'll protest," Conwell said.

"But I'm not happy about those "F's," the biggest thing is our children, we have to fight for our children as well. We'll fight for the building, but we need to fight for our children as well."

Conwell said stronger parental involvement and stronger PTA's are critical in improving students academic performance.

The complete scheduled of public meetings concerning the Cleveland school district recommendations can be found here.