Heights Deserve Better!
The communities of Cleveland Heights, University Heights and South Euclid that comprise the CH-UH City School District deserve the best facilities master plan possible. The current plan (Plan C) is the wrong plan at the wrong price on the wrong time line for our community. We agree that our facilities need improving and that our district has too much capacity for its decreasing enrollment. We disagree with this plan on these key areas:
1) The overall cost (projected to be $206 million) is more than our community can afford and relies on too many sources of unsecured funding (the passage of a bond issue AND raising additional millions through state funding, donations from foundations and individuals and a long-term loan to be paid back with anticipated operational savings from the project and dipping into the District’s Permanent Improvement Fund).
2) The design is unproven in improving educational outcomes. The proposed design concepts call for student-directed learning communities made up of movable walls, glass partitions and garage door-style entrances to learning caves. Neither the district nor its consultants have been able to provide independent research that correlates this expensive design to improved academic outcomes. Nor have they answered requests for information on the acoustics of this design and the impact on learning.
3) This plan does not address two key issues the community has repeatedly raised: A) retaining a public elementary school within the city of University Heights, and B) preserving the historic core of our buildings. We believe it is short-sighted to implement a plan that will erode property values on which the district relies for revenue. Retaining unsightly 1970s additions and gutting 1926 structures to their steel frame erasing all remnants of historic character is directly counter to the original goals outlined by the Facilities Citizens Committee.
4) The decision-making process lacked transparency causing us to lose trust in the plan and those who will implement it. The district spent the majority of the time promoting a pre-conceived plan rather than engaging the community and listening to input.
Based on these points, as well as those raised by others who have signed, we respectfully request the CHUH School Board to stop the process of putting a bond issue on the ballot until 2013. We want to use this additional time to openly work together to compromise and create a plan that unites -- rather than divides -- our community.