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November 22, 2011   Vol. 2, No. 2   
· Message from the CEO
· Financial & administrative officer appointed
· Nooks replace textbooks
· CMSD make efforts to boost Hispanic graduation rates
· Election lesson teaches students the voting process
· Council of college deans honors CSU and CMSD
· Sisters of Charity sponsors Carson Reading Room
· Praise from top superintendent
TopTo CMSD Friends & Supporters: 
Eric Gordon, CEO

CEO Eric S. Gordon 

As we enter the holiday season, I remain grateful for your interest in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and for your continued support of the students and families we serve.  


As you are likely aware, CMSD recently had to cut an additional $13.2 million out of our 2011-12 budget in order to maintain a balanced budget for this school year. These cuts became necessary after an Ohio law passed last July that changed the way in which schools in Ohio are funded. By law, CMSD and all school districts are required to maintain a balanced budget to avoid being placed in fiscal watch or fiscal emergency by the state of Ohio.


In order to address this budget deficit, we developed a time-phased strategy of budget cuts to be implemented this year that was approved by our Board of Education in October. We immediately began the work of implementing our budget reduction plan and have already reduced our school and office operating budgets and our textbook budget. We also placed a hiring freeze on all non-essential job positions, saving about $4.9 million.


We are also currently implementing reductions in the number of principals and assistant principals, cleaning personnel and school security officers, while remaining focused on our commitment to safe, clean and orderly schools.


Finally, we are preparing to implement reductions in student transportation, our district pre-school program, our district summer school program and our spring athletics program beginning in the second semester, if necessary.


At the same time that we have planned for implementing these budget reductions, we have continued negotiations with several of our district's labor unions. I have also challenged staff to look for any innovative cost containment idea or opportunity to increase our district's revenue so that we can, if possible, rescind these program cuts, which will impact students and families throughout the city. I remain optimistic that we can and will find solutions for at least some of these program reductions before we must ultimately implement them in January.


While we continue to work to solve the challenges we face, we are working now to assist parents and families in preparing for planned cuts in programs and services. This week, my staff and I are currently preparing information that will present families with available options and help them to make decisions for their children.

These options include alternative day care and pre-school program choices, options for low-cost transportation and options for summer school credit recovery for students who need them. It is our goal to provide a comprehensive planning guide to families in early December, when we return from Thanksgiving recess.


In the meantime, we will continue to seek alternative funding sources with the goal of restoring these programs for our families before the second semester begins in January. I will keep you informed of our progress.



Eric Gordon Signature





Eric S. Gordon, CEO


CMSD appoints
chief financial & administrative officer

Scanlan Head Shot
John Scanlan

John Scanlan will be the new chief financial & administrative officer, effective Jan. 1, 2012. Scanlan joins the Cleveland Metropolitan School District after a national executive search, sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation.


CEO Eric Gordon appointed Scanlan with the unanimous support of the CFO Search Advisory Team, which included prominent stakeholders in Cleveland's civic and business communities and CMSD's senior leadership team.


"John Scanlan is a proven and respected leader that brings a strong record of success to Cleveland," Gordon said. "His strength in two key areas of operation will be instrumental in the realignment of CMSD's financial and administrative practices."


Scanlan will lead two departments, utilizing his expertise in addressing financial challenges and implementing academic transformation goals.


Most recently, Scanlan was deputy superintendent of administration in New York's Rochester City School District. During his three years there, Scanlan led a staff of 1,500, aligning human capital, finance and operations with a strategic plan for the academic achievement of 32,000 urban students.


"Mr. Scanlan's work in Rochester generated improvements in staffing, school safety, transportation and food service that reduced costs by millions of dollars," Gordon said. "His experience closing a $79 million budget gap while improving services for students will be an asset to our district during this critical time."


Scanlan redesigned Rochester's budget system, creating a school-based, student-weighted funding strategy that matches resources with student needs and increases student equity.


Scanlan also served as chief operating officer in the Oklahoma City Public School District, where he applied training in a statistics-based, change management system, known as LEAN/Six-Sigma, which transformed district business operations affecting 40,000 students in 81 schools.


Beyond his work in public schools, Scanlan completed 26 years of service in the U.S. Navy, which he calls the "largest teaching and learning organization in the world."


Upon retiring from the military, Scanlan said he wanted to use his leadership skills to "eliminate the educational and economic divide faced by our nation's children." This sense of mission led Scanlan to win a fellowship within the competitive Broad Superintendents Academy where he worked with experts in K-12 education to understand the most effective practices in public school systems throughout the country.


Nooks replace textbooks with e-book technology
Nook Bookshelf Project with training

(Top) The seven-inch Nook Color tablets provide touch-screen technology. 


(Below) Teachers receive training on the Nooks prior to the rollout at Mound and Washington Park.

The Bookshelf Project, a pilot project designed to replace outdated printed textbooks with modern technology, will make accessing current information easy for students.


On Nov. 2, students in grades 6-8 at Mound School and Washington Park High School were the first Cleveland Metropolitan School District students to receive Nook Color tablets. The students are able to use the e-book readers in and out of their classrooms, thus replacing worn, outdated textbooks. The donated Nook tablets will also save the schools money because hardbound textbooks are expensive to replace.


"We saw this as a significant opportunity to help our students and teachers embrace the technologies they have already been using outside the classroom," said CEO Eric Gordon. "By using current technology, the students have the most updated information available, and we can further improve our use of both classroom and homework time."


About 400, seven-inch Nooks, which include protective covers, were purchased at a discount from Barnes & Noble through a major grant from the Third Federal Foundation. Educators received training on the touch-screen Nook devices for nearly a month before the launch.


The Nooks, enabled via Wi-Fi, offer students digital content, provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; current textbook content; a touch-word dictionary and encyclopedia; access to hundreds of online video tutorials; and book assignments. The Nooks also give students the ability to create electronic notes.


Third Federal Foundation, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Barnes and Noble, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and other major partners worked with CMSD to launch the Bookshelf Project.


"The Bookshelf Project seeks to reach students where they are," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Duane Deskins, whose office was heavily involved in the Bookshelf Project. "This model recognizes that modern students relentlessly consume great quantities of information through technology."


The Bookshelf Project is a pilot venture to secure a $3 million Investing in Innovation Development Track grant from the U.S. Department of Education. In Phase II, if awarded, 19,932 Nooks would be distributed throughout CMSD to all sixth- through 12th-grade students, teachers, assistant principals and principals. The Department of Education grant winners will be announced by Dec. 31, 2011.


Esperanza and CMSD make efforts to boost Hispanic graduation rates
Esperanza Logo

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District and community organizations, such as Esperanza, are trying to increase Cleveland's Hispanic graduation rates and improve communications with the Hispanic community.


College Fair
College fair attracts Hispanic students.

The urgency of these efforts was highlighted this fall when the latest graduation rates for Cleveland high school students were published. While the rates for white students improved from 58 percent to 61 percent and black graduates surged from 58 percent to 75 percent in the past three years, the numbers for Hispanic students dropped from 34 percent to 30 percent over the same time period.


Esperanza, a community group that provides youth literacy training, mentoring and tutoring for Hispanic youth, recently received more than $300,000 from the Cleveland Foundation to help boost the number of Hispanic high school graduates and prepare these students for college.   

On Nov. 18, Lincoln-West International Studies Academy, Esperanza and other Hispanic groups worked together to host a career and college recruitment fair geared to Hispanic high school students grades 10-12. The fair provided information about colleges, financial aid, career options and leadership development.


"The primary purpose of putting this event together was to increase our graduation rate among the Hispanic population," said Irene Javier, principal at Lincoln-West.


Bridging the Language Barrier


Improving Hispanic graduation rates is challenging, however, if communications barriers are not overcome.


To help achieve this, CMSD is communicating more with the Hispanic community via translated news articles sent to Hispanic community newspapers and a translation feature on the website. Visitors to the CMSD website can now read the site in various languages, including Spanish, using Google Translate. To use this feature, readers click on the top right corner of the web page and select a language from a drop-down menu.


In addition, the Office of Family and Community Engagement (F.A.C.E.) purchased simultaneous translation equipment, which allows non-English speaking parents or community members to hear workshops and community meetings in Spanish. The equipment consists of small wireless FM transmitters and wireless receivers. A CMSD interpreter wears a wireless transmitter and translates the speaker's words so the non-English speaking audience members, who have the receivers, hear the information at the same time as their English-speaking counterparts.


The equipment is housed at the schools and F.A.C.E. Office. CMSD employees that have undergone training on the equipment can check out the equipment for parent meetings or workshops.
Election lesson teaches students the voting process
election day is teachable moment
A Campus International student casts his ballot for student council representatives.

Election Day became a government lesson for students grades K-3 at Campus International School, located on Cleveland State University's downtown campus.

Campus International students voted Nov. 7 in their first student council election. Only the third-grade students ran for office, but all 220 students got to vote for their student council representatives, which include a class president, vice president, secretary and two treasurers.


Third-grade teacher Sheila O'Rourke said what began as a classroom discussion turned into an election process with candidates, campaign posters, speeches, ballots and even "I Voted" stickers. O'Rourke said the students came up with the idea of a student council to help set up school programs such as recycling.


The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections provided voting stations, stickers and other election supplies to make the school election as realistic as possible.

O'Rourke said the activity motivated her students to learn more about the Nov. 8 election. And, as in real life, the students didn't know the official results until Nov. 9.

National council of college deans
honors CSU and CMSD
Urban Impact Award
(Right) Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, presents CEO Eric Gordon with the Urban Education Impact Award.

The Council of the Great City Colleges of Education awarded Cleveland State University and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District its first Shirley S. Schwartz Urban Education Impact Award, Oct. 28.


Presented in Boston at the Council of Great City Schools' annual fall conference, the award recognizes the Master of Urban Secondary Teaching (MUST) Program - a partnership between the university and CMSD.


A nationally recognized, 14-month graduate program, MUST focuses on urban teaching and social justice and exemplifies a commitment to community renewal. The program culminates in a master of education degree and Ohio teacher licensure in math, science, social studies, English/language arts, foreign language or art for grades 7-12.


The award includes a two-year scholarship, available to a CMSD graduate who attends CSU.


Nearly 1,000  of the nation's urban school leaders converged on Boston in late October to discuss new teacher evaluation models, the implementation of common core standards and the financial crisis impacting urban school districts. The five-day conference, hosted by Boston Public Schools, ended with a National Town Hall Meeting about labor-management relations and collaborative efforts for higher student achievement.

Sisters of Charity sponsors Carson Reading Room
Dr. Benjamin Carson
Dr. Benjamin Carson


The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is funding a reading room and scholarship opportunities for students in Cleveland's Central Promise Neighborhood.


The foundation is establishing both initiatives through Carson Scholars Fund, a charitable organization founded in 1994 by Dr. Benjamin Carson and his wife to encourage academic excellence.


"By investing in children's minds, we reward today's role models and prepare tomorrow's leaders," said Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.


Carson visited Carl and Louis Stokes Central Academy on Nov. 3 to announce that the school would receive Ohio's first Ben Carson Reading Room. During his visit, he addressed middle-school students from each of the three Central Promise Neighborhood K-8 schools - Stokes, Marion Sterling and George Washington Carver. The world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon shared with students how he overcame childhood poverty and went on to college and graduated from medical school because of his passion for reading and learning.


Reading Room at Stokes
(Right) Dr. Benjamin Carson talks to Susanna Krey, Sisters of Charity Foundation's president, before they announced their joint effort to support a reading room.

Sisters of Charity Foundation will give $15,000 to the Ben Carson Reading Room. When completed in 2012, the room will be an attractive environment for children to discover the joy of reading. Yearly, 60 existing Ben Carson Reading Rooms across eight states place more than 30,000 books in students' hands.


Additionally, Sisters of Charity Foundation granted $5,000 to the Carson Scholars Fund for Central Promise Neighborhood students to compete for 2012 Carson Scholarships. The fund awards high academic achievement with $1,000 college scholarships for students in grades 4-8. Each scholarship will be invested in a trust until the recipient attends a four-year college or university.

"The resources provided by the Sisters of Charity Foundation significantly support our efforts to foster a love of learning among our students," said CEO Eric Gordon. "We appreciate our partnership with the foundation and look forward to continued collaboration."


Praise from Ohio's top superintendent

MC2STEM logoEvery Monday, Stan Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction, issues a weekly bulletin highlighting his visits to Ohio's schools.


In his Oct. 3 bulletin, he wrote about his visit to Cleveland Metropolitan School District's MC2STEM High School, located on the campus of GE Lighting and Industrial's world headquarters.


The following is excerpted from his bulletin, which offered praise to the hard work of teachers, staff and students at MC2STEM:


"With the school's focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as higher education, students earn college credit from Cleveland State University or Cuyahoga Community College. MC2STEM High School offers rigorous, relevant instruction, and students earn credit based on 90-percent mastery of each subject, not seat time.


"Additionally, students have regular exposure to the STEM-related workforce as they partner and have lunch with General Electric engineers. GE volunteers have contributed more than 5,500 hours to the students in two years. Schools like these are the front-runners in moving Ohio toward college- and career-readiness for all students."

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