Cleveland's Shifting Population Drives School Closures, Consolidations

Built in 1924 to house 3,000 students, Collinwood High School on Cleveland's East Side now has about 300 students enrolled. [Cleveland Metropolitan School District]
Built in 1924 to house 3,000 students, Collinwood High School on Cleveland's East Side now has about 300 students enrolled. [Cleveland Metropolitan School District]

Updated: 4:40 p.m., Oct. 19, 2019.

Several Cleveland schools may close under the new downsizing plan announced Friday by Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).

Under the plan, Glenville High School would absorb Collinwood and Martin Luther King, Jr. high schools, and East Technical High School would absorb students from the closing of Jane Addams and Washington Park.

Ward 8 Councilman Mike Polensek, who represents Collinwood, said he’s disappointed in the possibility of the school closing.

“Today is a sad day for Collinwood and other neighborhoods throughout the city,” Polensek said in a statement. “We have all seen what abandoned and closed school buildings have meant and the impact they have had on the surrounding neighborhoods.”

CMSD CEO Eric Gordon says population changes throughout the city make having school buildings in some neighborhoods unnecessary.

“We are facing tough decisions because both the school and the neighborhood are struggling,” Gordon said. “And so I do think it is a linked challenge, and I don’t think it would be fair for me to blame a neighborhood or a neighborhood to blame the school.”

Career programs offered at the closing schools, like the environmental studies program at Washington Park, would still be offered. The Washington Park greenhouses and fields could be kept, and students would travel to use them.

The plan also expands some programs, like a partnership with Cuyahoga County Community College to allow students to enroll in advanced manufacturing classes.

The downsizing also could include staff reductions.

“We believe and hope that we will be able to account for most of that through attrition, and because we’re phasing this work in, we don’t expect that it will cause a mass staff change all at once,” Gordon said.

Gordon says some of the buildings will be demolished, while some could potentially be sold and redeveloped.

The plan also includes rebuilding some schools, like Lincoln-West High School in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Modern amenities are built into new CMSD schools.

“We build tech bars, where they have high stools and a smart TV and the kids can interact with the content,” Gordon said.

The consolidation would increase the quality of education and number of programs in a way they weren’t able to offer in schools built for more than 1,000 but currently only have about 300 students, Gordon said.

The district will listen to feedback from the community before the school board decides whether to approve it.

The school board will discuss the proposal at a Nov. 1 retreat in Geneva-on-the-Lake. It could vote at its Nov. 19 meeting.

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