Residents gather for Save Our School meeting
Jodi Sourini speaks to the group while Christy Dolan writes ideas on a flip chart.
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On May 22, a dozen residents of University Heights and Cleveland Heights rallied together at the Save Our School (SOS) meeting at University Heights City Hall. The group voiced its discontent with the CH-UH School District’s Plan C, insisting that University Heights should have a public elementary school.
Plan C recommends closing three out of seven elementary schools in the CH-UH district. Gearity Professional Development School, the only public elementary school in University Heights, would close under Plan C.
SOS formed after the school district presented Plan C to the public. The group’s goals are to convince school board members that Plan C is not the best option for the district, and to encourage people to vote against Plan C if it appears on the November ballot.
“It is very, very important for a city to have an elementary school within its boundaries,” Christy Dolan, a University Heights parent, said.
At the meeting, attendees expressed concerns about Plan C. Many worry that eliminating the city’s only public elementary school will decrease property values and discourage families from moving to University Heights. Group members believe these changes could have detrimental effects on the city’s future. “I really am concerned about the health of our community,” said Susan Infeld, University Heights mayor.
Many said that they are pleased with the education their children receive at Gearity, and pointed out that the school’s enrollment has increased in recent years. They noted that University Heights has one-fourth of the school district’s overall population and should contain one of the four elementary schools within its borders.
Objections to Plan C were not solely focused on Gearity. Others expressed concern that the facilities plan will increase taxes. Some noted that new school facilities built in other districts, including East Cleveland, Lakewood and Warren, did not improve the economies in those cities.
“People in Cleveland Heights also do realize that this is a problem for University Heights and its residents,” Infeld said. Many Cleveland Heights residents want to construct the high school portion of the facilities plan first, to build in more time to debate plans for the district’s elementary schools. Some in Cleveland Heights dislike that two schools within their city would close under Plan C, especially after the closing of Coventry Elementary School in 2008.
The group brainstormed ways to spread the word about its cause. The group hopes that SOS T-shirts, which were for sale at the meeting, will help. Other suggestions included distributing fliers to University Heights business owners and residents, and having a group presence at public events and venues in the city.
Members of SOS have contacted school board members to express their views, and encourage others to do the same. “Hopefully they will realize that there should be a public elementary school in this community,” Infeld said.
The group hopes its efforts will convince school board members to vote against putting Plan C on the ballot.
For more information about Save Our School, visit www.facebook.com/savegearity or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simone Jasper is a senior at Beaumont School. She is a staff writer for the Beaumont Voice student newspaper, and an intern for the Heights Observer.