News: Cutting Classes

Lowering expectations for Cincinnati Public Schools' building plan

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Graham Lienhart

The school board failed to seek public input before deciding to close schools, according to Vanessa White.

Vanessa White is unhappy with the way the Cincinnati Board of Education went about deciding to close nine schools and eliminating thousands of seats from the district, but not because of the cuts — it's the way they were made that bothers her.

"I'm a huge advocate of the district, I believe in working for and with the system, so it's important to me to have as much information and understanding as possible," White says. "What I'm really commenting on is the process more than the solution. It's hard to accept the solution when I haven't been engaged in the process. There's never been an engagement process where there's been an exchange of information."

All five of White's children are enrolled in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), and she serves as the president of Parents for Public Schools ( Looking at these competing perspectives and hearing from the community is what Vanessa White says should happen now.

"It was a top-down decision," she says. "Members of the board who ran a strong campaign on really wanting to hear that voice — in these kinds of situation, that's where the voice is so important."

Citing the engagement process used for the new community learning centers, White and Newell see citizen input as a way to look for creative solutions.

Cranley says she agrees and points out that school closures won't happen right away.

"Nothing is written in stone," she says. "What we're trying to do is be prudent, not pessimistic, as we perform our roles of oversight, governance and policy." ©

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