Universal Pre-K, High School Academies In The Works For Lorain

Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr., right, spoke to community members at a town hall event in city council chambers. (Ashton Marra/ideastream)
Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr., right, spoke to community members at a town hall event in city council chambers. (Ashton Marra/ideastream)
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Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy Jr. will create a universal preschool program and transition Lorain High School to a five academy model starting in the 2018-2019 academic year, all without spending additional district dollars.

The announcement came during a monthly town hall meeting Thursday that detailed a number of program changes and shifts in resources as part of The Lorain Promise—Hardy’s academic improvement plan for the failing school system.

Some of those initiatives will begin to take shape as soon as this month when task forces made up of district administrators, teachers and community partners begin meeting, but others, like the changes to Pre-K and the high school structure, are already in the works and, according to Hardy, likely won’t require additional district resources.

Hardy doesn’t anticipate needing to hire additional preschool teachers, for example, but will redistribute current Pre-K classrooms into every elementary school in the district from their current central locations.

At the high school, the five academy model will allow students to choose between options such as early college, AP/Honors, and arts tracks, among others, but will largely contained under one roof. Programming may require additional spending, Hardy said, but that doesn’t necessarily mean new money.

“The investment that we’ll put into this academy model will be a slight uptick in our spending,” Hardy said, “but we also know that we’re creating savings that will funnel towards what we believe will be the best things for our kids.”

Those savings are the result of an outside audit conducted in the fall of the district’s programming and service vendors—a $19 million line item in the district’s overall $150 million budget. Hardy said it found a range of savings from $500,000 to $1.7 million through the elimination of duplicative services and other partnerships.

Final decisions about what to eliminate haven’t been made yet, Hardy said, but he plans to update the community about them when he presents a final district budget later this month.

Savings will help pay for other programs as well, Hardy said, including a new Parent University, a Millionaires Club, or rewards program for students who read 1 million words a year, and more comprehensive professional development for teachers.

Hardy also intends to conduct an audit of the district’s personnel, but has not yet scheduled its start.

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