CTM Education Letter to CPS Board of Education

The CTM Education Committee prepared and transmitted a letter with attachments to the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education (BOE) and Superintendent Mary Ronan on February 4, 2017. This letter was written to summarize the work of the Committee in advance of a “Fact Finding” meeting with some members of the CPS BOE and CPS Administration on February 7, 2017.

The text of the letter in full is below with links for each attachment.

1/26/17
Attn: Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education, Superintendent and all other interested parties:

On September 14, 2015 Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) voted to create an ad-hoc committee made up of both CTM Trustees and community members to focus on education and improving access to quality public education seats. Over the past 15 months, this group has worked on community engagement, coordination and teamwork with other neighborhood groups, and collection and analysis of data related to school-aged children in the Clifton area. The following is a description of the educational access challenges that brought the Education Committee together and some of the specific efforts the committee has engaged in over the past 15 months.

A. Educational Access Challenges in Clifton

In the wake of the change in magnet school enrollment, many families in Clifton are unable to gain access to the only public school located within our neighborhood unless they win a lottery spot at age 3 to Rising Stars Academy. For those families who do not win the lottery during this small window of opportunity, significant barriers exist to gain access to quality public education in our neighborhood. We have heard from community members who are struggling right now to get their own children into KG (see Attachment A). To complicate this problem further, census data indicates while a robust number (approximately 180 children per year), are born in Clifton, CUF and SGV combined, many move out by elementary school years and a concerning number attend private schools with use of vouchers or charter schools (see and also see Attachment B). In the year 2015-16 alone, the cost to the taxpayers for oucher/charter enrollment was $895,000 (this number excludes the cost of transportation) just using data for 45220 (see Attachment C1 Voucher School data, Attachment C2 Voucher Charter Data, and Attachment C3 Charter School data $ 45220). With the change in magnet enrollment policy, we have concern that this number will continue to grow if the current situation does not change. The Clifton neighborhood has been negatively impacted by families moving out of the neighborhood and potential buyers deciding against moving here, as described by the realtor who sells more homes in Clifton than any other (see Attachment D ). We have collected other personal accounts giving insight into why many do not choose the Clifton neighborhood or choose to utilize vouchers or charter schools instead of public education (see Attachment E letter 2 and Attachment E letter 1).

B. Coordination with Neighborhood Groups to Identify a Solution

The Education Committee has engaged with representatives of the CCAC to form the “Working Group,” which is comprised of Fairview parents, and representatives of the CCAC, CTM, CUF Council and Spring Grove Village Council. This group has met regularly toward the goal of identifying positive solutions for our neighborhood. Together, we hope to achieve a two-building solution to gaining school access and maintaining the CCAC as a neighborhood asset. (see Attachment F Signed Joint Statement of Spring Grove Village, CUF and Clifton). As outlined in Attachment J, members of both the Working Group and the CTM Education Committee have identified and visited potential sites. Potential spaces for a permanent location are listed in Attachment J.

C. Community Engagement

Our group’s effort follows a detailed community engagement plan (as seen in Attachment G). Pursuant to this plan, we are continuing to implement many outreach activities, including community forums, door to door contact with neighbors, engagement at public events, contact with neighborhood day care and preschool facilities, identifying supporters to sign petitions and intent to enroll forms, social media advertising, mailings, visits to community groups, businesses and organizations, and play groups for families with young children. The community forums and door to door efforts have resulted in positive community feedback for starting a new school. Additionally, we have identified a growing number of supporters through a petition with 261 current signatures and enrollment forms with 38 current
potential students for a new neighborhood school (see Attachment H). Summaries from all 6 community forums in which this group has participated are described in Attachment I. Considering the connections with potential new families ready to attend the proposed neighborhood school together with a formal commitment from CPS, we expect to gather further support enabling a strong start. In addition, we are optimistic about potential Uptown community partners working with us and being a big part of the school’s success once the project has a CPS commitment.

D. Data Collection and Analysis

The Education Committee has collected and analyzed data that demonstrates the potential for our neighborhoods to have a unique and successful neighborhood school. Through our community engagement efforts, we have learned that racial, religious and economic diversity is a priority for a new school environment. We have completed extensive research of the old Clifton School and found that this school did include both racial and economic diversity (see Attachment K Cincinnati Magazine Aug 1975-Clifton and Attachment K Cincinnati Magazine Aug 1975-Clifton-school excerpts) into the 70’s and beyond, and that current data (see Attachment L) shows that diversity does exist in our neighborhoods’ population. We welcome and are open to having boundary lines for the new school that are parallel to old lines which included areas of Avondale (see Attachment M) in addition to the neighborhoods of CUF and Spring Grove Village. We have been working together with both CUF and Spring Grove Village since January of 2016 and look forward to engaging Avondale in addition to Rockdale in relevant conversations moving forward.

E. Proposed Solution

The CTM Education Committee proposes both a short-term and long-term plan for creating a new, successful neighborhood elementary school in the Clifton area. We are eager to form an Advisory Steering Committee and partner with CPS for the purpose of working to finalize a temporary and, in time, a permanent location for a new school. In addition to location, we are ready to work with CPS to initiate programming planning and to establish beneficial partnerships. The CTM Education Committee believes it is important to offer a new opportunity to those who are now in the position of having to decide on public vs. private education. Opening both a preschool classroom along with a KG class this Fall (’17-’18) at Rising Stars Academy on Vine Street would meet an immediate need in the Clifton area and provide additional preschool slots for CPS. Growth of the new elementary school could then be executed by adding a grade each year and consequently would not disrupt other existing schools in the area.

Thank you for your consideration of our plans and we hope to work closely together soon.

Clifton Town Meeting Education Committee

Connecting with Clifton Town Meeting

Welcome to 2017!  We recommend you bookmark this post as below are some key information about Clifton Town Meeting for your use.

Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) has a Board of 15 Trustees. The organization has a set of bylaws that governs its operation and action. http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/CTM-Bylaws-Revised-Dec-2015.pdf

Your Trustees for 2017 are as follows:

Eric Urbas – President
Cindy Oakenfull – Vice President 1
Malcolm Montgomery – Vice President 2
Ashley Fritz – Secretary
Shaun McCance – Treasurer
Adam Balz
Peter Block
Christine Celsor
Brad Hawse
Nicholas Hollan
Rama Kasturi
Seth Maney
Kevin Marsh
Michael Moran
Joyce Rich

There are many ways to interact, engage, volunteer, and communicate with CTM.

In person options

We have monthly Board meetings. The schedule is set every January at the first Board meeting of the year. Generally, the meetings are on the first Monday of the month from 7-9pm at the Clifton Recreation Center. Exact dates will be posted on the Clifton Community Calendar website page.

You can speak at these meetings on a specific topic or at the end of the meeting. Community members should sign up to speak on an agenda item before the start of the meeting. Not all agenda items will have time reserved for public input. Individual input on agenda items will be no more than two minutes. Community members are able to speak on non-agenda issues during the public questions and concerns agenda item. Individuals with statements are asked to sign in before the start of the meeting. Statements will be no more than three minutes during the questions and concerns agenda item.

Our Committees are always seeking volunteers for specific activities or for longer term participating on the work of the Committee. Your involvement, be it big or small, is welcome and desired.

Events CTM produces or co-sponsors annually:

•Memorial Day Parade & Cook Out
•CliftonFest Booth
•Golf Outing
•Lantern Walk
•Holidays on Ludlow

The Clifton House Tour is held every 3 years on Mother’s Day. Next Tour is 2018. Planning always starts in the year prior to the event.

2017 Event Captains
Event – Captain
House Tour – Adam Balz
Memorial Day Parade/Cookout – Nicholas Hollan
Clifton Fest Booth – Joyce Rich
Golf Outing – Eric Urbas
Lantern Walk – Adam Balz
Holidays on Ludlow – Joyce Rich

All events are more successful when we have volunteers from the community to participate in planning or on the day of the event.

Committees and Chairpersons for 2017

Committee – Chairperson
Beautification – Adam Balz
Business – Peter Block
Chronicle – Ashley Fritz
Website / Social Media – Shaun McCance
Membership – Kevin Marsh
Housing and Zoning – Christine Celsor
Nominating – Ashley Fritz
Public Safety – Kevin Marsh
Clifton Community LLC – Eric Urbas & Shaun McCance
Transportation – Seth Maney
Parks – Rama Kasturi
Education – Nicholas Hollan
Ad Hoc Committees
Fundraising – Brad Hawse
By-Laws – Malcolm Montgomery
Save the CCAC – Malcolm Montgomery

Liaison Role
Uptown / NOU – Joyce Rich
Invest In Neighborhoods – Shaun McCance
TriHealth – Brad Hawse
Clifton Community Fun – Eric Urbas
CPBA – Peter Block
Ludlow 21 – Joyce Rich
Clifton Market – Rama Kasturi
UC Health – Brad Hawse

Some of our Committees hold public engagement / discussion meetings to gather input on specific topics. These are announced in advance by email and put onto social media channels.

Emails to CTM

CTM has multiple emails that you can use to convey information, concerns, questions, etc:
•Our primary email is contactctm@Cliftoncommunity.org. This email is monitored daily. Your email is forwarded to the most appropriate person or Committee for response. When in doubt, use this email for all purposes.
•Financial matter to address with our Treasurer, please email ctmtreasurer@cliftoncommunity.org
•Matters dealing with Housing & Zoning, you can email the Committee directly at housingandzoning@cliftoncommunity.org
•Matters related to the Education Committee, you can email the Committee Chair directly at clifton-school@cliftoncommunity.org
•Submit an article / photo for the Clifton Chronicle or wish to place an ad, you can email vblack1@cliftoncommunity.org

Emails from CTM

CTM has a subscriber, opt-in, email list that is used to send information & announcements related to Clifton. We never sell or share this list, and we do not email you constantly. 3-5 emails a month including the monthly CTM meeting agenda. You can opt-in at this link: http://eepurl.com/bemMm5

The Education Committee has has a subscriber, opt-in, email list that is in use for topics related only to guaranteed access to quality education and the current effort to create a neighborhood area public school. We never share or sell this list, and we do not email you constantly. You can opt-in a this link: http://eepurl.com/bR8pAn

Clifton Community Website

CTM maintains the Clifton Community website at http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/ This website contains a variety of news, calendar, public safety links, prior CTM meeting minutes, Clifton Chronicle issues, links to institutions & businesses in Clifton, and much more. There are links on the website to submit questions / concerns directly to CTM.

The Clifton Community Calendar has a moderated submission link that you can use to create entries for community events on the calendar. http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/calendar/

Social Media

CTM operates various social media accounts:

•Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/CliftonTownMeeting
•Twitter account – https://twitter.com/cliftontownmeet @cliftontownmeet
•NextDoor Clifton account – https://clifton.nextdoor.com/login
•The Education Committee has a Facebook Group called “Citizens For Clifton Area Neighborhood School” https://www.facebook.com/groups/1165996130112593/

Social media “likes”, shares & retweets do not imply Board positions or agreement. We like to promote Clifton related events for the good of the community.

Postal Mail

We accept mail at PO Box 20042, Cincinnati, OH 45220. This is the slowest way to contact us.

Membership

Our organization is always seeking the financial support of the community through a variety of membership options. You can start or renew a membership online at http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/products-page/membership/ We run a more detailed membership drive effort each year as well describing the benefits of being a member.

Thank you. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you.

CTM Election Results

CTM Trustee elections were held on December 5, 2016. Members cast 108 ballots. Trustees elected were Kevin Marsh, Joyce Rich, Christine Celsor, Seth Maney, and Brad Hawse.

CTM President Eric Urbas thanked all candidates who ran for election, and he also expressed gratitude for the service of departing Trustees Ben Pantoja, Erin Hinson, and Adam Hyland.

CTM Trustee Nominations for 2017

We are seeking candidates to run for Trustee positions during the 12/5/2016 meeting of the Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) Board. If you think you might enjoy serving as a Trustee, please email contactctm@cliftoncommunity.org by October 21st.

UPDATE on Nov 11 — Click here to see the bios of all the candidates for Trustee.

CTM is Clifton’s neighborhood community council. As such, CTM seeks to understand the interests of Clifton residents and to represent those interests with the City of Cincinnati. In addition, CTM supports a wide range of events and projects that help make Clifton a great place to live, work and play. Examples include: Holidays on Ludlow, the Memorial Day Parade, CliftonFest, the Clifton House Tour, and the restoration of the Probasco Fountain.

As a Trustee, you will share your voice and skills regarding community events, beautification projects, and issues related to education, safety, transportation, business development, and housing and zoning. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other organizations such as Uptown Consortium, CCAC, TriHealth, CPBA, Ludlow 21, and Clifton Community Fund.

Trustee Expectations:

  • Serve a 3 year term
  • Attend and participate in monthly CTM meetings
  • Serve on at least one CTM committee
  • Be informed about issues that affect Clifton

If you are interested in becoming a CTM Trustee, please email contactctm@cliftoncommunity.org no later than October 21st.

  • Provide a telephone number if possible. We will email you more information, but would also like to call you to answer any questions you may have.
  • You must have a current CTM Membership at the time of the election. Memberships are available to Clifton residents, Clifton property owners, and operators of businesses in Clifton. For more information about CTM Membership, see http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/products-page/membership/
  • Before the election, you must submit a biographical summary of 200 words or less so that voters can learn about you. We will email you examples from past elections.
  • Please submit your bio by 10/28/2016 so that we can include it in the next Clifton Chronicle newsletter. If that is too soon for you, we will accept bio’s as late as 11/04/2016.

If you’d like to join our energetic, committed committed group of CTM Trustees, please contact us soon.

New CTM Education Social Media Groups

The CTM Education Committee has launched a new place on Facebook. & NextDoor Clifton regarding guaranteed access to quality public education with a focus on a new neighborhood area school.

Do you live in or near the neighborhoods of Clifton, CUF, Spring Grove Village, or the zip codes 45220 / 45219? Are you are interested or supportive of access to quality education for all children potentially including a new neighborhood school? Is the current school situation confusing, or do you want more information ?

Join this group today! This group is maintained by the Clifton Town Meeting Education Committee as a way to educate and engage with the community. This group welcomes civil discussion and constructive input.

Click here for Facebook group.
Click here for NextDoor group.

The Community Councils of Clifton, CUF and Spring Grove Village agree that the Clifton Cultural Arts Center must remain in its current building. Plans and designs for a new neighborhood school will be considered only for other locations.

Joint Statement on Education & CCAC to CPS

Working Group

Clifton Town Meeting – CUF Neighborhood Association – Spring Grove Community Council – Clifton Cultural Arts Center – Fairview-Clifton German Language School Parent and Community Representatives

Joint Statement

Over the last several months, representatives from Clifton Town Meeting, CUF Neighborhood Association and the Spring Grove Village Community Council have been meeting with community partners from the Clifton Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) and parent and community representatives of the Fairview-Clifton German Language School LSDMC in an effort to develop a comprehensive, unified plan that guarantees quality school access for all residents of the three communities, ensures that Fairview-Clifton German Language School remains a highly rated school and securely maintains CCAC in their current building under the terms of the 2005 lease agreement.

Throughout the past six months our joint goal has been to identify a solution that addresses both the needs of the District and communities and creates a win for all parties. After many weeks and hours of discussion, we have agreed upon a collaborative, inclusive approach that we believe meets that goal:

  • Expand classroom space on Fairview’s current location to cover a 3-year increase in kindergarten magnet enrollment with a build-out of the current building and the temporary use of modular classrooms during the build-out;
  • Commit and allocate necessary physical, financial and staff resources to ensure that all students at Fairview continue to receive a quality education;
  • Scale back enrollment to the pre-expansion level of 100-125 kindergarten magnet students after three years;
  • Keep CCAC in the 1906 building under the current lease agreement without possibility of termination until the completion of the lease period, and/or CPS to offer CCAC the option to purchase the property;
  • State on all print and electronic documents produced by CTM, CUF or Spring Grove Community Councils that, “The Community Councils of Clifton, CUF and Spring Grove Village agree that the Clifton Cultural Arts Center must remain in its current building. Plans and designs for a new neighborhood school will be considered only for other locations”;
  • Begin a neighborhood school based on an informed community engagement process, for the 2018-19 school year at a temporary location with one grade level, adding another grade level each subsequent year;
  • Create a neighborhood school to a suitable size that accommodates the demand of the neighborhoods. Possible sites include: Fairview expansion build-out, Hughes High School Annex or the former Fairview School Annex.

Click here to see the signed version of the Joint Statement of Spring Grove Village, CUF and Clifton

=== PRESS RELEASE ===

Cincinnati – Representatives from Clifton Town Meeting (CTM), CUF (Clifton Heights-University Heights-Fairview) Neighborhood Association and the Spring Grove Village Community Council (SGV), along with community partners from the Clifton Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) and parent and community representatives of the Fairview-Clifton German Language School Local School Decision Making Committee (LSDMC) will hold a press conference on Monday, August 22, at 5:30 pm at the Cincinnati Public Schools Education Center at 2651 Burnet Avenue in Corryville to release a Joint Statement.
The Joint Statement is the result of months of weekly meetings between these community stakeholder groups who are all deeply engaged and invested in the education, diversity, vibrancy, inclusion, and cohesiveness of our neighborhoods and community institutions.

The solutions presented in the Joint Statement convey the priorities of the communities:
• access to quality education for all children potentially including a new neighborhood school;
• preservation of the high level of educational quality at Fairview-Clifton German Language School in the face of pressure to expand;
• safeguarding of the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, an essential community asset, in its current location.

The collective group, commonly known as the “Working Group,” reflects the interests of thousands of our city’s children, parents, and residents. In early 2016, the Working Group began meeting to address urgent community issues: the challenge of overcrowding at Fairview Clifton German Language School, the threat of losing CCAC, our cultural center and a valued educational partner for CPS schools, including Fairview, and improved access to quality public education for residents of Clifton, CUF and Spring Grove Village.

Members of the Working Group, joined by dozens of community members, are asking to work collaboratively with the CPS Board of Education and Administration to determine the details and specifics of a practical, long-term strategy, which addresses all of the concerns listed in the Joint Statement. “Stakeholders from many different groups and three distinct neighborhoods have come together and worked hard to develop the comprehensive solution embodied in this Joint Statement,” said Clifton Town Meeting Vice President Malcolm Montgomery. “We believe that together with CPS we can give these children a great education and preserve the cultural center of our neighborhoods and beyond.”

###

2016 Membership Drive

Spring 2016

Dear Neighbor,

Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) is your local community council. CTM advocates on behalf of the Clifton community. Issues we have promoted in the past year include supporting the CCAC, seeking high quality public education seats for your children, removing invasive plants from Burnet Woods, more events at Clifton Plaza, reducing the speed limit on McAlpin and Ruther Avenues, more bicycling infrastructure for Clifton, and resolving the noise from the roof of Good Sam hospital. We have worked on zoning variance issues as well as providing community input into the City’s Land Development Code revisions.

CTM also sponsors many activities and festivals throughout the year for our community including: Memorial Day Parade & Cookout, Lantern Walk, CliftonFest, the House Tour, Holidays on Ludlow and more. We provide funding for beautification projects such as the flower pots & holiday decorations on Ludlow Avenue. We provide communications including the community email list, Clifton Community website and the Clifton Chronicle. We partner with the Clifton Business and Professional Assocation (CBPA) to keep the Clifton Plaza operating. To support this important community work, we need your generous support. Membership dues are tax deductible and make up the second largest source of income for CTM. If you paid membership dues sometime in 2015, thank you for your support. Memberships are based on the calendar year, and we need your support again in 2016.

Starting or renewing your membership will help us keep Clifton a vibrant, desirable, and fun place to live, work, and play. CTM also accepts donations, and you can do that at the same time you renew your membership online. You can click here to renew online.

If you wish, you can also use this Membership Form to do a mail in membership renewal.

Thank you for your support.
CTM Membership Committee

Find CTM in social media on Facebook and Twitter

CTM Notifies CPS of Flawed Survey

CTM Trustees voted on May 2 to notify CPS of flaws in the survey that CPS sent to Clifton-area families during April. The full letter is detailed below.

May 9, 2016

Ericka Copeland-Dansby, President Cincinnati Board of Education
Mary Ronan, Superintendent Cincinnati Public Schools
Melanie Bates, Vice President CPS BOE
Eve Bolton, Member CPS BOE
Carolyn Jones, Member CPS BOE
Daniel Minera, Member CPS BOE
A. Chris Nelms, Member CPS BOE

Dear President Copeland-Dansby, Superintendent Ronan, and Members of the Board of Education,

I am writing to you on behalf of Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) regarding the recent survey sent to some of our residents by Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS). Based on recent comments by Superintendent Ronan we understand the intention is to use these survey results for making decisions related to a neighborhood school for Clifton, CUF, and Spring Grove Village. We believe this survey to be incapable of providing any meaningful information on which to base decisions about a neighborhood school.
Please understand that we do not like having to address this problem after the fact, or in public. We regret that we can find no other recourse to prevent the misuse of the survey data. This could have been avoided had we not been shut out of the process:

• Prior to the distribution of the survey, several of our Trustees conveyed concerns to CPS about its questions
• On March 23, the Superintendent agreed to send us the final version with April 15 the due date for comments
• At our April 4 board meeting, President Copeland-Dansby presented a new version of the survey for our review and comment
• We sent it to several experts who found serious problems and offered to work with your survey people, to which Superintendent Ronan agreed (April 11)
• But on April 13, the Superintendent told us we were too late and that the survey had been sent out – without letting us see this new version, and prior to the due date for comments, and inexplicably contrary to her express agreement not two days earlier.
• Since then, our experts have evaluated this new version and are unanimous in finding it unreliable if not misleading. Their complete reviews and credentials are attached.

Clifton has long been a strong supporter of Cincinnati Public Schools and wants to continue this support. We campaign for school levies, raise money for schools, volunteer time and resources to enrich students’ experiences, and are passionate about the value of education for all children. Part of that support includes taking responsibility for helping head off problems we see coming. We tried to head off the survey problem: we warned the Administration that the survey was flawed, but it was sent out anyway. Now we are alerting you that if the survey results are used, they will only lead to bad decisions. That is one very important issue, yet there is a bigger one underlying it, and that is the exclusion of CTM from the planning process. We were led to expect that collaboration would be welcome, but I am sad to report that our experience has not borne this out. What do we need to do to achieve this mutual goal?

At this time, there is a unique opportunity to have a process with strong participation from the community. The need to address the overcrowding at Fairview-Clifton German Language School, the desire to save the CCAC, and the need to provide reliable access to excellent education have inspired our community to work together toward the best outcome possible. Clifton has long been a strong supporter of Cincinnati Public Schools and wants to continue this support. We want to be partners with you and bring our passion, creativity, and all our other resources together to create outstanding educational opportunities for all children in Clifton and beyond.

As previously expressed in motions of our Board and communications from our Trustees, we want to collaborate with CPS to develop a process that includes our participation and involvement in the proposals for Clifton. Please let us work with you to develop this process.

Sincerely,

Eric Urbas
President, Clifton Town Meeting

*** Click Evaluation of April 2016 CPS Survey by Research Professionals to read the analysis referenced in the letter. ***

CTM Education: Call to Action

Does Your Child Have Access to Quality Education? This is a call to action for Clifton as well as Clifton Heights, University Heights and Fairview (CUF) residents concerned about public education access. Did you know that our neighborhood assigned public school is failing on the state report card?

Access to Fairview-Clifton German Language School, a CPS magnet school, is only available through the CPS lottery. Not having access to quality public education in Clifton could result in fewer families moving to and staying in Clifton, which may also negatively impact our property values.

Let’s join together to improve the ability for all children in our neighborhood to attend a quality public school. Our neighborhood and CTM Education Committee is working hard to make positive change happen.

If you are interested in getting involved in now or would like to be added to our education email list, please click here to subscribe to the email list. Additional information is available here and in other posts on the Community News section.

Third Annual Golf Outing

This gallery contains 1 photo.

The CTM 3rd Annual Golf Outing was held on August 22. It was a great day for golfing, and 80 golfers worked the Avon Fields Golf Course. CTM is grateful for the sponsors of this event. Check them out in all the pictures. We will be adding more along with some results of the event […]

CTM Considers Funding for Clifton Deer Project

This coming Monday, 9/14/15, Clifton Town Meeting will be evaluating a proposed one time donation of $5,000 to the Clifton Deer Fertility Control Pilot Program. Because this is a relatively large unbudgeted expense, we wanted to provide the community with some background information and invite residents to attend our 9/14/15 Monthly Board Meeting at 7 pm at the Clifton Recreation Center. The agenda will include this and other topics such as formation of a new CTM committee to respond to the CPS decision regarding Magnet School enrollment and an update on resolving concerns related to noise from the air conditioning units at Good Samaritan Hospital. If you are unable to attend our meeting, please consider sending your comments to us at contactctm@cliftoncommunity.org. We recognize that not everyone will be able to speak on Sept 14 and some may not be able to attend.

Events Leading To This Funding Request
Last fall, the Cincinnati Park Board concluded that, to protect the health of the forests, they needed to reduce the population of deer in three of Clifton’s Parks: Mt. Storm, Rawson Woods, and Edgewood Preserve. At the August and the October CTM Board Meetings, the Park Board proposed starting a program to use certified bow hunters to “cull” the deer herds in the Clifton Parks in the fall of 2014.

Although some residents felt they should accept the Park Board’s opinion that this was their best option, many other residents protested, collected petitions and in October eventually persuaded the Park Board to cancel the bow hunting plans for 2014. The Park Board, however, said that there still was a need to control the deer. They said they could support a non-lethal alternative approach under these circumstances:
1. The non-lethal deer management program would need to be a research project approved by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)
2. CTM would need to vote in favor of the research project proposal so that the Parks would have some evidence of Clifton community support.
3. The project would need to be privately funded.
4. All city, state, and federal approvals and permits would need to be complete by June 15, 2015.

Two alternative approaches were presented to CTM: a sterilization program and a contraception program. CTM narrowly voted in favor of the sterilization program on 2/2/2015. Here is a link to their website: http://cliftondeer.org/donations/. At the time of this vote, we did NOT expect to provide any funding or resources for the project. We were only stating a preference at the request of the Park Board so that they could request ODNR approval for one and only one approach.

On 5/11/2015, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued a permit for the program. The Clifton Deer Project started fundraising immediately but they apparently underestimated the challenge of raising $40,000 prior to starting the program in November. Most of the cost is in the first year ($40,000 versus $5,000 or less in subsequent years) because of the experience of their contractor, White Buffalo, indicating that the most effective approach may be to sterilize 95% of the does in the first year of the program. This is actually the research goal that they presented to ODNR: to prove that a program that sterilizes 95% of the does in the first year will effectively reduce deer population in a park system as is found in Clifton that is partially isolated from surrounding forests. For this $40,000 goal, the Clifton Deer Project has raised over $12,000 so far and just received a $20,000 grant from the Humane Society.

Although the Project is still fundraising, this leaves them about $9,000 short of the funding they need to start this program in November. Due to this unexpected shortfall, they are asking CTM to provide a $5,000 matching grant. If they can then get others to donate a matching $5,000, they will have enough money to pay White Buffalo to sterilize most of the does this year.

Arguments For and Against the Funding

    Arguments for the funding

1. The Clifton Deer Project is the only option available this fall/winter to get deer population under control. The number of does in these parks grew from 30 to 40 just since last fall. There is not enough time to switch to bow hunting or to start a new process to gain ODNR approval for the other major non-lethal option of contraception. If you believe the Park Board, getting the deer population under control benefits the ecology of the parks. Also, it reduces collisions between automobiles and deer, reduces the risk of Lyme diseases, and reduces damage to household gardens.
2. The Project is innovative. If successful, it could lead to an ODNR approved option for every neighborhood in Ohio to address deer population issues without hunting. Maryland became the first state to approve this wildlife management technique after a similar study by the same contractor who would lead the work in Clifton, and, if Ohio follows Maryland, non-lethal deer management options could spread.
3. The Humane Society sponsorship is good PR for Clifton. This huge organization is featuring this Clifton project in their national campaign to celebrate their 60th Anniversary.
4. Animals do feel pain. If we can address ecological needs with less pain and suffering, why not do so?
5. The project is close to raising what it needs, but the November deadline is approaching. With CTM’s contribution and additional fundraising by the Project, they are likely to succeed.
6. This project is relatively affordable for CTM. We have some annual expenses ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. A $5,000 one-time expense is relatively affordable. Also, CTM’s $80,000 cash balance is much more than most community councils, and there are many who feel we should be looking for opportunities to use this money on worthy projects.
7. If this program is NOT funded for 2015, costs are likely to increase along with damage to the ecology in the parks by the time we get to 2016. The population of does grew from 30 to 40 in just one year from 2014 to 2015. This caused the budget for the first year to grow from $30,000 to $40,000. This would be likely to increase further if the Deer Project can’t raise enough funds to start the program in 2015.

    Arguments against the funding

1. When we approved this program in February, we were not told we might be asked to provide any funding. The Clifton Deer Project may not have anticipated the challenges of fundraising, but this is still an unpleasant, unexpected outcome for CTM.
2. What is the “will of the people”? This is a tough question to answer because many Clifton are not aware of all the plusses and minuses of this issue. Also, it may be impossible to get majority support for ANY one option because at all the CTM meetings involving this topic some people were advocated bow hunting, others advocated contraception, and a third group advocated this sterilization project. Everyone was passionate and everyone disagreed. Another complication is that one could argue that people living near these parks are more directly affected by the Project and should somehow have more say.
3. Will costs after year 1 exceed current projections? The Clifton Deer Project expects to use sources other than CTM for all funds in years 2-5. They project annual costs in years 2-5 because this study aims to complete 95% of the sterilizations in year 1. But this IS a research project and nothing is certain.
4. Also, although this contractor has had success in similar projects elsewhere, given that it is a research project, there is no guarantee that it will effectively reduce the deer population.