Community meeting at Cleveland Elementary draws about 200

The lively meeting pitted parents against Superintendent Karl Springer over changes at the school.
BY VALLERY BROWN Published: August 15, 2012

Some 200 parents, teachers, students, administrators and community members packed into the auditorium at Cleveland Elementary School to voice concerns over changes many see as harmful to education as well as the neighborhood surrounding the school.

At issue is the loss of a full-time science teacher last year and a reduction of arts and science opportunities at the school.

“When outside decisions are made that chip away at the reputation of this school and what makes this school unique, of course we become defensive,” said Louis Paugh, who has one child at Cleveland.

Paugh said he bought a home in the neighborhood because of the school.

“What does a neighborhood and its school have to aspire to if it's just like the rest?” he said.

Cleveland Elementary, located off NW 23 near Villa Avenue, is one of the highest performing elementary schools in the district. More than 30 percent of students are transfers. About half of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches compared to about 90 percent eligibility districtwide.

Superintendent Karl Springer focused on class size and budget constraints during the meeting, citing increased enrollment and reduced or flat allocations to education over the past few years. He said changes at Cleveland were made because other schools didn't have some of the things Cleveland did.

“We wanted to be equitable,” Springer said. “We're attempting to keep class sizes small and to be able across the school district to give kids the same opportunities.”

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