CLEVELAND — 7,000 empty desks.
The Cleveland Metropolitan School District proposed today a plan to reduce that number and offer more educational programs through a combination of consolidation, renovation and new construction.
But that means nearly a dozen schools will be closed, including Collinwood High School, the city’s oldest functioning high school and one with a rich legacy in Cleveland.
District CEO Eric Gordon told 3News Friday the proposal follows careful study and can be summed up in his mind with the headline, “Tough decisions intended to make better opportunities for kids.”
Gordon said that under the plan, more students will be able to take music and Advanced Placement courses as well as get vocational training at east side schools, which parents and officials have wanted for years.
Collinwood students, who are known as the Railroaders, would be sent to Glenville High School, home of the Tarblooders.
Citing rivalries that still linger on and off the field, Collinwood Councilman Michael Polensek said Collinwood residents will look elsewhere.
“They think that somehow all these kids are going gyrate to Glenville,” Polensek said in an interview Friday. “I got news for you: For those of us who know, you will see families move and see more kids go to charter schools.”
Gordon said such concerns are unfounded.
“As a community, we know the old rivalry of Glenville and Collinwood, but last year those kids had a prom together.”
Gordon also reiterated that Cleveland students are not bused anywhere and are free to attend any school of their liking. Martin Luther King Jr. will also be merged with Glenville High School, which has 384 students in a building that can accommodate 1,800.
Neighborhood activists are planning to speak out against the plan during a serious of public meetings that begin Saturday. You can find a list of the meetings and the district’s full report below:
“This isn’t just closing a school,” activist Kyle Earley, who is also a local pastor, claimed. “It’s breaking up a family relationship students have with teachers, principals security guards and community partners.”
Polensek also called on Gordon and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson to have a plan for the massive Collinwood High School, which was built nearly 100 years ago.
“These closures will affect neighborhood stability,” Polensek said. “It’s one thing to close them and it’s another thing to let them sit and rot.”
Gordon said the school could become a community center.
For Polensek, the closure will extinguish a legacy.
“When you look at the Collinwood Hall of Fame, it’s a Who’s Who of Cleveland.”
Graduates include Polensek, Mayor George Voinovich and Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
“The tears that would be coming down their cheeks,” Polensek said.
“It tells us a lot about where we once were in the city and where we are today,” he said.
- Oct. 19-30: Regional Meetings
- Community will review recommendations
- Oct. 22: Regular Board of Education Business Meeting
- Location: John Marshall High School
- Oct. 23 & 24: Parent-Teacher Conferences
- Feedback will be collected and forwarded to the planning team
- Nov. 1 & 2: Board of Education Leadership Session
- Board will review data and recommendations
- Nov. 6: Regular Board of Education Work Session
- Final recommendations will be presented
- Location: East Tech High School
- Nov. 19: Regular Board of Education Business Meeting
- Final recommendations will be presented for approval
- Location: Lincoln-West High School