What's New

May 24, 2016

Cincinnati School Board Approves Historic Levy Resolution

For Immediate Release — May 24, 2016

Contact: Janet Walsh, Director, CPS Public Affairs: (513) 363-0023, 207-8181, walshja@cps-k12.org

Cincinnati School Board Approves Historic Levy Resolution
Votes Unanimously to Ask Voters to Expand Preschool, Support Workforce Readiness

The Cincinnati Board of Education voted unanimously on May 23, 2016 to begin the process of placing a $48-million annual levy request on the November 8 ballot that would, for the first time, expand access to preschool while supporting community priorities for K-12 education.

If approved by voters, the five-year emergency levy would create a partnership with advocates for the Preschool Promise initiative, designating that $15 million annually would be earmarked for expansion of quality preschool in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), as well as community-based providers.

A crowd of supporters at the school board meeting at the district’s Education Center erupted into applause after the vote. Board members earlier praised the partnership, noting that it not only expanded preschool, but also provided funding to support community priorities for K-12 education – including up-to-date technology for students; strengthening neighborhood schools; and college and career readiness programs. District surveys show that these are top priorities for district parents and community members.

Board President Ericka Copeland-Dansby said the levy request had the potential to “transform lives, strengthen neighborhoods and improve the economic vitality” of the region.

“Ultimately, this investment is about more than Cincinnati Public Schools and the Preschool Promise,” she said. “This investment represents success for Cincinnati. It is a strong vision for our community to begin to break the cycle of poverty and prepare students for life from early childhood through graduation and beyond.”

The vote followed a presentation of a comprehensive study of the district’s financial operations, commissioned by members of Cincinnati’s business community at the request of CPS, indicating that despite fiscal accountability, the district faces a potential deficit of as much as $60 million in five years due to rising enrollment and flat revenue. Even with suggested cost-cutting opportunities to lower the deficit, the report concluded a new levy was needed to support continued CPS investment in quality teachers, educational technology, college and career readiness, as well as the preschool expansion partnership.

CPS’ last new operating levy was approved in 2008.


May 23, 2016

Business Group Shares Review of CPS Finances

For Immediate Release —  May 23, 2016

Contact: Janet Walsh, Director, CPS Public Affairs: (513) 363-0023, 207-8181, walshja@cps-k12.org

Business Group Shares Review of CPS Finances
Study Shows Responsible Spending, Need to Increase Resources to Meet Growth

A comprehensive study of the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) financial operations, commissioned by members of Cincinnati’s business community at the request of CPS, indicates that, despite fiscal accountability, the district faces a “structural imbalance, which is expected to grow” due to rising enrollment and flat revenue.

If the trend continues, Greater Cincinnati’s largest public school system could face, in just five years, an annual deficit of almost $60 million, the report warns. Even with the implementation of additional cost reductions recommended in the report, which have the potential to reduce the deficit by as much as $5-10 million per year, CPS will likely need at least $30 million annually in new money to bridge the average shortfall through FY21.

The Cincinnati Business Committee and the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee retained Parthenon/Ernst & Young, a leading global financial service provider and independent advisor with combined financial and education subject matter expertise, to serve as consultant on the project. Parthenon, additionally, has significant experience in assisting public school districts and municipalities in assessing and evaluating budgets, multi-year financial projections, and cash flow forecasts.

The review was overseen by the Financial Efficiency Review Steering Committee (FERC) which was comprised of business, civic, and education leaders. The report will be summarized at the Cincinnati Board of Education’s May 23, 2016 regular meeting in conjunction with CPS Treasurer Jennifer M. Wagner’s presentation of the school district’s five-year forecast.

“We are committed to financial transparency, which is why we welcome this review of our financial operations,” Wagner said.

The business community’s review showed that, over the past 10 years ,CPS had lowered spending and closed schools in response to declining enrollment. However, more-recent enrollment increases, which are projected to continue, are greatly adding fiscal pressure on the district, the review indicated.

Wagner confirmed that – despite state predictions of continued decline – district enrollment rose (for the first time in decades) in the 2011-12 school year, to 32,335; reached 34,104 in 2015-16; and is projected at 35,112 students next school year.

“We're pleased the report recognized the steps our district has taken over the past decade to cut costs, including closing schools in response to declining enrollment,” Wagner said. “We also intend to diligently pursue other cost-containment opportunities suggested in the report – because we want to ensure every possible dollar is working for students.”

“At the same time, now that CPS enrollment is increasing again, we agree with the report's conclusion that there is a growing structural imbalance that requires additional revenue to continue the momentum of progress we're experiencing in our schools," Wagner added.

The review also factored in the need for an additional investment of $15 million annually to expand access to quality preschool for 3 and 4 year olds – through CPS and community partners.

While stopping short of recommending a specific millage amount, the business community’s review confirmed a levy would be necessary to support continued CPS investment in quality teachers, educational technology, college and career readiness, and innovative strategies to advance progress for K-12 students – as well as make strategic steps to expand preschool in the Cincinnati community. CPS’ last new operating levy was passed in 2008.

Members of the Financial Efficiency Review Committee include: Alex Kuhns, (Former) Board President, CPS; Brian Ross, CPS Audit Committee Chair; Julie Sellers, President, Cincinnati Federation of Teachers; Ted Torbeck, President/CEO, Cincinnati Bell; Greg Landsman, Cincinnati Preschool Promise; Michael Rutz, Assistant Controller, GE Aviation; Pat Zerbe, Manager, Community and Government Relations, GE Aviation; Kevin McDonnell, President, Skyline Chili; Ben Russert, Chairman/Owner, Prosource; Mel Gravely, President/CEO, TriVersity Construction; Tim Fogarty, CEO, West Chester Gear; Tony Hobson, Vice President/Counsel, North American Properties; Julia Poston, Cincinnati Managing Partner, Ernst &Young; Geoff Zimmerman, Executive Director, Strive Partnership; Leslie Maloney, Senior Vice President, Haile/US Bank Foundation; Marcia Futel, Board Vice President, Parents for Public Schools; Helen Mattheis, Program Director, Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Ross Meyer, Vice President – Community Impact, United Way of Greater Cincinnati; Gary Lindgren, Executive Director, Cincinnati Business Committee and Cincinnati Regional Business Committee; Jennifer Wagner, Treasurer, CPS; Mary Ronan, Superintendent, CPS; Ericka Copeland Dansby, President, Cincinnati Board of Education.

Community partners who contributed funding to the review process include: The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, Cincinnati Public Schools, GE Aviation, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

Following presentations of the financial review findings and the district’s five-year forecast, the Cincinnati Board of Education will consider a resolution of “necessity,” the first step in placing a request for new operating revenue on the November ballot.


May 23, 2016

Dater High School Teacher Honored by Hamilton County Education Foundation

Demetra Jones, a 7th-grade mathematics teacher at Dater High School, was honored for outstanding teaching on May 13 at by Hamilton County Education Foundation. Jones, a lead teacher, was nominated for the honor by Dater High School Assistant Principal Amy Uecker. The breakfast event marked the 10th year the foundation has recognized outstanding educators from the public school districts in Hamilton County.

Photo: CPS Superintendent Mary Ronan (far left) celebrates with Dater High School teacher Demetra Jones (center left), recognized for teaching excellence by Hamilton County. Featured are Dater Principal Stephen Sippel and Dater High School Assistant Principal Amy Uecker, who nominated Jones for the honor.


May 23, 2016

Teacher’s love seen in 87 graduation gifts

Hannah Sparling, The Cincinnati Enquirer 8:29 p.m. EDT May 18, 2016

Photo: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar

In case you forget: You matter — a lot.

And you’re annoying, sometimes, but for the most part, you’re amazing.

“So go be great,” teacher Sinita Scott tells her seniors, who are crowded in the cafetorium on their last day of school.

Scott teaches English at Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati, and this year, she’s giving her seniors an unusual sendoff: a personal gift and letter for each.

Eighty-seven students. Eighty-seven letters. Eighty-seven gifts.


May 19, 2016

Aiken Receives Anthony Munoz Foundation Service Award

Aiken High School’s ongoing fundraising to support a school in West Africa has earned the prestigious Service Challenge Project Award from the Anthony Munoz Foundation.

Anthony Munoz presented the award to Aiken's students and staff on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, along with a $2,000 donation.

Aiken High School's students and staff have raised, so far, $6,500 to support a school in Largo, a remote village in Sierra Leone, West Africa. A 3.2-mile walk-a-thon recently by students around Aiken’s College Hill neighborhood symbolized the distance Largo children had to walk to school before Aiken students raised money to help build a three-room school building. The new school is named “Aiken-Largo.”

Money raised in the walk-a-thon will support installation of solar power in the Aiken-Largo School.

Munoz annually hosts a Youth Leadership Service event, with students from about 200 schools from around the Tristate attending. Each school is offered a challenge to do a service project. Based on the success of the projects, four schools are picked as runner-ups and one school wins the service challenge. For the past two years, Aiken’s fundraising efforts for the Aiken-Largo School have won runner-up recognition.

Aiken began raising money for the Sierra Leone school about two years ago after an Aiken staff member spent time in Largo and learned the village had no school. Aiken adopted the school as on ongoing project, collecting money and books, with the hope that the relationship would grow and lead to Aiken students visiting the school someday.


May 16, 2016

CPS Students Present a Day-Long Showcase of Art, Dance, Drama and Music

ArtworkStudents from 48 Cincinnati Public Schools will showcase their talents during "A Community Collage," a day-long exhibition of art, dance, drama and music that runs from Friday, May 20 to Saturday, May 21 at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) located at 342 Clifton Court on UC's campus.

The event will feature more than 20 student performances and an exhibition of over 500 works of students' art. The art exhibition will be open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Friday and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Admission to the event is free. The schedule is as follows:

Friday, May 20, 2016
Student Performances: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Includes band, dance, drama, jazz and choral performances by CPS students

Student Exhibition of Visual Art: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
CPS students' art work will be on display including drawings, paintings and sculptures.

Saturday, May 21, 2016 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Art exhibit is open to the public.

In addition to the art exhibits and performances, students will debut a "Districtwide Collage" created by students at the participating CPS schools. The collage consists of 53 foam panels blended into one breathtaking 8-foot by 20-foot modern-art collage of paint, paper, yarn and fabric.

The public and media are encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact Dr. Isidore Rudnick, CPS Fine Arts Curriculum Manager, at 513-363-0340 or rudnici@cps-k12.org.


May 9, 2016

My Tomorrow Day, Monday May 9

Downtown’s Fountain Square will come alive at noon on Monday, May 9, 2016, as more than 150 students from several Cincinnati Public Schools gather to celebrate My Tomorrow Day – marking the early success of the district’s My Tomorrow initiative.

The celebration kicks off with a special musical performance by the students. Following the performance and brief remarks from Superintendent Mary Ronan, students will share information about how the My Tomorrow initiative has impacted their lives.

Attendees will be able to tour the district’s Tech Truck, a mobile professional development lab designed to help teachers infuse technology into the curriculum.

Now in its second year, My Tomorrow envisions that 100 percent of 7th-graders will graduate within six years with a clear path toward college and thriving careers. Early success has been substantial, with 92 percent of the Class of 2016 realizing the vision:

  • 79% are graduating on track for college
  • 11% are graduating with professional jobs
  • 2% have decided to join the armed forces

My Tomorrow creates the conditions for students to graduate prepared with a purpose and a plan – incorporating extensive technology, higher-level coursework and personal connections every step of the way. Through its partnership with business leaders, the initiative reinforces the value of real-world experiences to prepare students to thrive in the workforce. In doing so, My Tomorrow is strengthening the link between successful schools and a successful community.


May 4, 2016

Woodford Teacher Wins Hawkins Educator of the Year Award

Western & Southern Financial Group has announced that Melissa Estell, teacher for Cincinnati Public Schools at Woodford Paideia Academy, has been named the 2016 Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year.

Estell was chosen by Western & Southern and CPS from finalists who were nominated by their CPS peers for the award. She was recognized on may 3, 2016, with a plaque and a personal check for $10,000 during a ceremony at Western & Southern’s Guilford Institute on its downtown campus. The ceremony marked the 10th anniversary of this award.

“We are very pleased to recognize Melissa for her dedication to creating a love for learning in her students and her commitment to empowering them to achieve,” said John F. Barrett, Western & Southern’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Educational achievement is one of the pillars to make Cincinnati great and a key component of our corporate citizenship efforts at Western & Southern.”

Estell has been employed with CPS for 25 years, serving as an intervention specialist at Woodford Paideia Academy for the last eight years.  

“We are gratified to see Melissa honored for her service to Cincinnati Public Schools. We feel she is truly deserving of the Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award, a recognition that exemplifies educators’ passion for their work,” said Mary Ronan, superintendent of CPS. “I commend all of the educators who were nominated – that in and of itself is an honor.”

Western & Southern established the Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award in 2007 to inspire and reward excellence among CPS educators. This distinguished award honors one educator each year who has elevated the educational process in public schools to an exceptional level through personal commitment, dedicated focus and outstanding results.  The namesake of the award, Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins, was a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen, a well-respected Cincinnati educator, former executive vice president of administration at the University of Cincinnati and former Western & Southern board member. He passed away in 2009.

For a complete list of 2016 finalists or more information on the Dr. Lawrence C. Hawkins Educator of the Year Award, visit www.westernsouthern.com/hawkinsaward.