New neighborhood school opens

On August 16, 2017, a new neighborhood school serving the neighborhoods of CUF, Clifton, and Spring Grove Village will be launching its inaugural classes of preschool and kindergarteners. The school’s temporary name is Clifton Area Neighborhood School (CANS), and it is part of the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) district. Enrollment is ALWAYS accepted for this school at any time. Click here to enroll in kindergarten.

The school is temporarily located at the Rising Stars Academy on Vine Street (also operated by CPS), and it will move to its permanent location at 3711 Clifton Avenue as soon as the Cincinnati Public School district completes renovations on the building. Expected move date is for the school year of 2019-2020, but it could happen during the school year of 2018-2019.

The school is planned to grow at one grade level per year. A pre-school class is also part of the inaugural year. Click here to enroll in pre-school.

CPS announced the new school opening on their district website. Click here to see.

There is a large group of parents, volunteers, and community members that have been working on opening the school and creating high quality education outcomes. They are called the CANS Advisory Group. They have created a website that you can see by clicking here. This website has news and events as well as links for how to enroll your child(ren). You can also read about how to get involved in supporting the school and the children.

A neighborhood school allows for all who live in the neighborhood to enroll their children. This is different than a magnet school for which a lottery is required for entry.

Cincinnati Public Schools – New School serving Clifton, CUF, and Spring Grove Village

At our May 1st Regular Board meeting at approximately 7:50PM administration and school board representatives from Cincinnati Public Schools will adress Clifton Town Meeting about a new neighborhood school including plans for use of the Historic Clifton School(3711 Clifton Ave) and adjacent Rawson Farm property as its future home. We invite all members of the community to come out and hear the information CPS has to share with us. There will be an amount of time for Q&A and opportunities to learn how to be a part of the process in shaping this change to our community.

Clifton Town Meeting has over the last almost 2 years worked on the issue of assured high quality education access for children of Clifton and keeping the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in its current building. Early on these two issues became intertwined due to the fact that Cincinnati Public Schools had suggested a new school as an option for solving the education access concern. Of course it was clear a possible location for this school could be the Historic Clifton School Building where the CCAC currently resides.

CTM worked with the several stakeholders and developed a position statement. Our board of Trustees unanimously passed supporting this statement last year. Two goals in that position were:

  1. Assured access to a high quality public school
  2. The CCAC remain in its current building.

This position was clearly and repeatedly provided to CPS.

Recently CPS announced termination of the lease with CCAC and also moved to purchase the neighboring Rawson Farmhouse property. Our understanding is both will be used for a new neighborhood school serving Clifton, CUF, and Spring Grove Village, or parts thereof.

The lease termination action was taken without knowledge or consent of Clifton Town Meeting and in contrary to our stated position of support of which CPS was well aware.

Now that this situation exists it will begin to have many impacts on our neighborhood, other Clifton education institutions, the immediate surrounding property owners, traffic on Clifton Ave, etc. CTM wants to start today to reach out to our community and begin a process of collecting input for the property use as a school. This input will help us formulate the positions we want to take as community with regard to the future development of the property as a school. Our intent will be to again reach out to CPS and advocate these positions with the purpose of helping make this a successful high quality public school.

Comments from the public at the April CTM Board Meeting on this subject are here.

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