Mayor Jackson Unveils Plan to Improve CMSD

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Mayor Frank Jackson on Thursday night outlined his plan to improve the quality of education, and heard reaction from city residents.

"We have some very good public schools, very good public schools, and then we have some very bad public schools," Jackson said.

The mayor addressed dozens of Cleveland residents, parents and teachers during a community meeting at the Gunning Recreation Center on the city's west side.

He and school district CEO Eric Gordon outlined a plan to dramatically improve the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

"It's an attempt to get the tools in place that make the plan go faster, to do the work we promised to do," Gordon said.

The plan includes changing how teachers are evaluated, terminated or compensated.  It also includes bringing more technology into school buildings, engaging in partnerships with successful charter schools, and possibly changing the structure of the school year: 10 weeks on, two weeks off.

"Anything that's gonna improve education I think in the long run is the best thing for the city. You have good schools, it's gonna attract more people," said parent Marla King.

Mayor Jackson says he will ask city residents to vote for a levy in November. He says the district needs to offset a $65-million budget deficit, which will already call for teacher layoffs. He says the money will also fund part of the new plan.

"You just said there is seven billion dollars in development ... how much of that is tax abated?" asked one resident.

"Take the money from the casino, and educate our children," said another resident.

"Now you have a right when the time comes to make your decision, but that's on you," responded Jackson.

The mayor says negotiations about the plan with the teacher's union Wednesday lasted until 2:00 Thursday morning. One of the main sticking points: a provision where future contract negotiations would start from scratch without carrying over old language.

"Public support is really about the support of education. It's not my plan; it's a plan for children. It's the plan for our children and the school district and it really focuses on quality education," Mayor Jackson told reporters.

The mayor says on Monday, lawyers for both sides will begin getting together to talk about what has been agreed upon so far.  Eventually, the final plan will go to the Statehouse in Columbus for review.

There are two more community meetings scheduled. One at the Collinwood Recreation Center on Lakeshore Boulevard is scheduled for April 19.  Another at the Cudell Recreation Center on West Boulevard is scheduled for April 24.

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