Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Hughes out of school redesign




BY JEFF CARLTON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati school board members exempted Hughes Center from an academic redesign after an hour of emotional testimony from students and parents Monday night at the Mayerson Academy.

        The exemption came despite a proposal by Superintendent Steven Adamowski for a compromise that would have exempted three Hughes programs that meet the district's achievement goals.

        More than 75 Hughes parents, students and alumni attended the meeting. They were overwhelmingly in favor of the exemption, which also has been granted to Clark Montessori, Walnut Hills and the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

        Most of the Hughes contingent stood up at the beginning of the meeting. Some held signs that read “Save Hughes.”

        Roderick McGhee of College Hill questioned the need for another redesign of the school, which has undergone two major curriculum overhauls in the ast 11 years.

        Many parents and students attended after hearing an unsubstantiated rumor that Hughes was to be closed.

        District officials plan to redesign high schools and expect to close some because of demographic shifts and facility conditions. But no recommendations have been issued; the high school redesign plan is expected in late April.

        Abysmal achievement and high dropout and truancy rates prompted administrators last year to announce plans to overhaul Hughes, Taft, Withrow, Woodward, Western Hills and Aiken high schools.

        A committee charged with investigating potential redesign models recommended restructuring high schools into “preparatory academies” for grades 9-10 and “senior insti tutes” for grades 11-12.

        Two board members sided with the district superintendent and voted against the exemption, pointing out that two of the school's six academic programs are classified as needing district intervention.

        School board member Sally Warner voted against Monday's resolution, arguing that the plan to redesign schools was entering a critical three-month phase of community input. “This resolution says "Stop.' You can't discuss any programs at Hughes,” she said.

        But board member Harriet Russell, who introduced the resolution, pointed to Hughes' improving performance on the Ohio proficiency tests.

        Last school year, 34 percent of Hughes ninth-graders passed all portions of the ninth-grade test. That same class, a year later, had a 70 percent passing rate on the 10th-grade test.

        “I do not wish to see this success torn apart,” Ms. Russell said. “I think Hughes is on the right track and should be given the continued opportunity to prove it.”

        Dana DiFilippo contributed to this report.

       



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