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Sanders’ First Day

Friday, June 30, 2006 at 12:23 PM

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The new Cleveland Schools CEO, Eugene Sanders, began his new job today, and he's bringing a number of top level staff with him from Toledo - people who helped him turn around the struggling school system there. ideastream's Lisa Ann Pinkerton reports.

Eugene Sanders: Good morning everyone.

Crowd: Good morning Dr. Sanders.

Eugene Sanders: This is going to be a good class, I can tell… (laughter)

It took six years for Dr. Eugene Sanders to take the Toledo Public Schools from the state ranking of “academic emergency” to “continuous improvement.” On his first day as head of the Cleveland Municipal School District, he outlined his plan to do it again. And for any plan to work, he says, you have to have the right people for the job. So he’s brought five key administrative staff members with him from Toledo, most important of whom, he says, is Craig Cotner. He’ll be Cleveland’s new Chief Academic Officer with 30 years of experience in curriculum, testing, evaluation, and special education.

Eugene Sanders: Much of the academic success… that was experienced in Toledo the last several years was a direct result of the leadership of Mr. Cotner. And he will… create that same energy and same enthusiasm and same vision for the students of our community here in Cleveland and want to thank Mr. Cotner for being here.

The other staff members from Toledo also have a history of success under Sanders. James Fortlege, once Treasure of the Toledo Public Schools, is now Cleveland’s Chief Financial Officer; Daniel Burns, formerly Toledo’s Chief Business Manager, will be Cleveland’s new Chief of Operations; and Clinton Faulkner, who headed Human Resources Toledo, will do the same for Cleveland. Finally, there’s Cleveland’s new Deputy Chief for K-8 Education, Sharon McDonald. She hails from Dayton and Columbus.

Eugene Sanders: She has a strong work ethic; she will work tirelessly on behalf of the children of this community and you’re going to see some wonderful creative things out of Miss McDonald.

Over the next 100 days, Sanders is calling on this team to evaluate the current status of the Cleveland Schools and recommend changes to it’s academics, departments and staffing.

Eugene Sanders: With the goal of being making the Cleveland Municipal School District more efficient and more effective and obviously to create a higher academic standard for our district.

But when pressed, Sanders declined to give any specifics about the status of current administrative staff or possible layoffs.

Eugene Sanders: Certainly if there’s an opportunity to adjust or right size departments or divisions we certainly will make that decision.

On September 10th, when the first 100 days of his administration have passed, Sanders says he’ll begin phase three of his strategy: re-evaluating and revising the district’s five year plan. Sanders says in this phase he’ll look to community and its leaders for guidance.

Eugene Sanders: I want to get out into the community; I want to touch people. I wanna find out what their interests are I wanna give them the opportunity what their concerns are what I’m going to do - and I wanna focus on kids and their families and find ways to make the Cleveland Municipal School district work on their behalf and that’s what my goal will be and the goal of the individuals here.

Dr. Eugene Sanders says he and his team recognize they have a lot of work a head of them, not the least of which is preparing for the first day of school, August 24th.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton, 90.3.

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