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Cleveland CEO delivers 'State of the Schools' speech

4:50 PM, Sep 27, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon gave his "State of the Schools speech" at the Cleveland City Club Thursday afternoon.

Gordon went over the results of the state's report card of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District that was just released Wednesday.

Gordon took the stage at the City Club of Cleveland to explain the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's Issue 107 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The issue is a four-year 15-mill levy that will bring $85.4 million in for schools. If passed, the levy will cost the owner of a $50,000 home about $230 annually.

"What it buys is real reform," Gordon said. "We need this so our children can compete for the jobs of tomorrow."

"...most of all, the four-year levy...the first in the past 16 years...makes us responsible for to the voters, as we will either transform Cleveland schools or we will lose the support of voters..."

"It's do or die time for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District...for the 40,871 students who are depending on us..."

"Issue 107 is the $85.4 million question and where we need to convince 88,371 plus 1 voters....and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is driving the bus with the sign 'Join Us,'" Gordon told the City Club.

"The Cleveland Plan is now law...this is real reform....it allows the district to share property tax money with selected charter schools....it gives the city and district a voice in what charter sponsors can start new schools in the city...it is the ability to pay teachers on a 'differentiated' salary schedule based on performance, special skills and duties, as opposed to the standard one that now increases pay based on years of service and education level..."

"...the other good news is that it allows us to give higher-rated teachers higher pay increases...and requires parents of district students to attend at least one meeting at the school by Dec. 15 of each year so they can meet teachers and discuss expectations and their children's performance..."

One of the key points of the Cleveland Plan, which Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law July 2, would be adjusting the school year.

The calendar would have 10 weeks of school, followed by three weeks of break four times a year.

"It will no longer follow the agrarian calendar with three months off in the summer where the learning drain occurs," Gordon said. "Issue 107 makes the new calendar work."

Passing the levy would also restore many of the school programs that had been cut, like physical education and art.

Gordon touched on Wednesday's partial report card from the state, which was not good news for Cleveland schools.

Gordon said  test scores remain flat for a second year in a row, which means the district will fall into academic emergency. Just starting the school year and Cleveland students and teachers are already facing an uphill battle, partial state achievement results indicate.

In 64 percent of tested subjects, student performance is lower than the previous year. In 36 percent of tested subjects, student performance is higher.

"We're seeing the painful results of not being able to even deliver the basics to our kids," Gordon said. He added that he "was devastated" when the results were known, that "overall scores are down 1.4 percent. It's a slight decrease but enough to throw the district into the lowest designation -- academic emergency."

"If we were 1.4 percent higher, I wouldn't be happy about it. Our scores are not good enough."

Gordon said it is the result of an underfunded district for too long.

"We cut $115 million. We increased class size and laid off 1,000 staff members," Gordon said.

Gordon told the City Club that school attendance was up, while safety issues in the district declined 36 percent and that the expulsion rate also declined 42 percent. The graduation rate is also up 4 percent.

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