The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has announced it will close, merge, or relocate several kindergarten through eighth grade elementary schools as part of a wide-ranging modernization plan.

The district says the schools involved are either in older buildings, have declining enrollment, or have received below average performance grades. The decision is not final, however, with the approval of the Board of Education still required.

Under the plan, the following schools would be closed for good:

  • Case
  • Iowa-Maple
  • Michael R. White
  • Willow

In addition, the following mergers would take place:

  • Kenneth W. Clement Boys’ Leadership Academy-Valley View Boys’ Leadership Academy (relocated to existing building)
  • Bolton-Dike School of the Arts (relocated to existing building)
  • Clark-Walton (relocated to new or renovated building)
  • Denison-Charles A. Mooney (relocated to new or renovated building)

Finally, Tremont Montessori will be fully relocated to an existing building. Joseph M. Gallagher, Marion C. Seltzer and Douglas MacArthur Girls’ Leadership Academy would also receive either fully new buildings or major renovations.

This stands in contrast to a $200 million bond issue voters approved less than five years ago: Issue 4 was meant to raise money to either renovate or completely rebuild more than 20 schools. Instead, the district is contracting.

"We have some difficult decisions to make," CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said. "But we believe these are the most responsible things to do. We are trying to do what’s best for the District."

Officials claim the plan would reduce the amount of K-8 kids in under-performing schools as well as increase the number in new or renovated schools, which would stand at 85%.

At least one community, however, is pushing back against the plan: Tremont West Executive Director sent a letter to Gordon urging him to reconsider relocating Tremont Montessori, claiming the area has shown significant growth of young children and families in recent years:

"Unfortunately, due to the age of the building, lack of continued commitment to investing in the needs of the Montessori program, and uneven leadership over the past few years, the families are not being retained. Additionally, due to our central location, Tremont Montessori has always attracted students from the East side with the second largest population outside of Tremont coming from the Central neighborhood. Our central location, Montessori education and safe, supportive, diverse community has been a draw. This strengthens the rationale for a new construction high quality public Montessori school in Tremont."

Should the plan be approved, it would take effect beginning with the 2020-21 school year. A second plan involving the district's more-than-20 high schools is expected to be unveiled later this year.