Cleveland Schools CEO Hopes to Stay With District

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CLEVELAND -- The man in charge of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) is giving himself a passing grade for the school year, and hopes to be rehired by the school board.

On Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon spoke to FOX 8 News about the future of the district.  

“We've got a long way to go,” said Gordon. “We knew that going into it, but we can't discount how much great goes on within the CMSD every day just because we haven't gotten to the end goal, so I think we've had a great year!”

But Gordon also admits it has been a rough road. Many of the 41,000 students attend poor or underperforming schools and he was also forced to lay off more than 500 teachers. 

“I went to BGSU,” said one teacher during an April meeting, “and they did not prepare me for this ... at all. They never told me that I could put in time in a district, give my money, give my heart to my kids and get laid-off.”

Money has been a huge issue, according to Gordon.  A deficit that was over $60 million will now be under $20 million for the next school year.  While reducing the deficit, Gordon was also a key player in building non-partisan support for state legislation that will allow him to choose who to cut, target underperforming schools and work closely with charter schools. 

“No one is satisfied with the incremental improvement we've gotten. It's about, 'How do we rapidly accelerate that so it becomes transformational improvement,' and that's what this is gonna let us do,” said Gordon.

Gordon signed a one-year contract when he assumed the position last year.  He’s now hoping to stay while accepting less money for the job.  Gordon took 16% less than his predecessor when he was promoted in 2011 and he’s now proposing a decrease in salary from $230,000 to under $228,000 for the next three years.

CMSD administrators are also counting on community support for a levy this fall.  The details are still being finalized, but an example 10-million levy would cost an additional $150 a year on a $50,000 home in Cleveland.  A school levy hasn’t passed in the city since 1996.

“I think this is a key moment where we have all come together, certainly over the last six to 9 months, and said, ‘In Cleveland, no more. We're gonna do it different, do it better,' ” said Gordon.

The school board will vote this summer on whether Eric Gordon will keep his job. They’ll also finalize the details of the proposed levy.