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Frank Jackson Calls For Changes At Cleveland Schools And Transit Authority

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in the Red Room at city hall. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson answers reporter questions in the Red Room at city hall

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says he supports Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon, despite the state giving Cleveland public schools an 'F' in its  most recent school report card.

The report found improvements in some areas but the district remained near the bottom statewide.

During a press conference at city hall a day after the state of the city address where Jackson called for systemwide changes in the way the school system teaches kids, the mayor said he he believed Gordon was up to the job.

“It’s not about his dedication, his commitment and all that,” said Jackson. “It’s really about his ability and willingness to adapt to what he has to do. I believe he can do that.”

Gordon has been the district CEO since 2011 and helped pass the Cleveland Plan to reform the city’s schools.

When asked whether there’s a time frame for Gordon to show results, Jackson pointed to the next school levy vote in 2020.

Jackson called for new ideas at another struggling local agency, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. 

He said he wouldn't support a tax increase to help fund the RTA until there’s reform at the agency and a new plan.

Jackson stressed the importance of public transit for the city’s future while stopping short of supporting a tax levy on the ballot.

“Who becomes the beneficiary of it?” Jackson asked. “And whose ox gets gored as a result of it? So I can’t say I’ll support any tax increase without knowing what it’s for and who would be the beneficiary, what benefit would we have as a result of it?”

The Regional Transit Authority has been struggling with dwindling revenues and ridership plus heavy turnover on its board of trustees.

The board voted down a recent attempt to put a sales tax levy on the November ballot while the authority conducts studies on its operations and economic impact.

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.