TPS announces proposal for ‘complete transformation’Written by Emily Gibb | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Board of Education members announced its proposal for a “complete transformation” of the TPS system.
The Feb. 1 proposal, based on eight goals for improving the district, would combine elementary and middle schools into kindergarten through eighth grade “neighborhood schools.” The high schools would be redesigned into magnet schools with focuses such as performing arts or technology, as well as the option of a traditional high school experience, said Jim Gault, interim chief academic officer.
“The plan is completely student-centered. It educates our students for the 21st century,” said Bob Vasquez, president of the TPS Board.
While the proposal has a balanced budget for 2011, a full implementation of the plan would require the district to seek additional funding in 2012.
If the transformation proposal would turn into a concrete plan, it will take at least three years until all changes are fully implemented, TPS Superintendent Jerome Pecko said.
The board will hold the first of several community meetings on Feb. 8. It will be its first chance to hear how parents feel about the potential upheaval and redesign of the school system.
“We’re hopeful that they will be receptive to these ideas,” Pecko said.
The board’s first goal is to build strong learning communities through creating the K-8 neighborhood schools. Gault said board members hope they would improve academic performance and increase attendance and parental involvement.
“Schools are moved to where the students are,” he said.
High school courses would be offered to sixth through eighth grade students who need an academic challenge. Extracurricular activities would also be rebuilt with seventh and eighth grade athletic programs for each neighborhood.
Another factor in implementing neighborhood schools is to help with the transportation issues in the budget. There would still be buses for students outside the walk zone, but the hope is that most students will live close enough inside the walk zone, Gault said.
The second goal is to provide “educational choices and equal opportunities,” that board members hope will help increase enrollment, as well as attract students from outside the district.
Starting in fall 2011, struggling students would have the option of alternate hours after the regular school day to make up necessary credits. The board would address low-performing schools, as well as individual students, by expanding the services of the agencies working with the schools, like the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, to address students’ needs.
In fall 2012, transformed high schools would take shape.
The high schools would become magnet schools so students in the TPS district and beyond can choose schools that fit their needs. However, the board has not set a plan for transportation for students to the different schools that might be outside their historical school boundaries.
Redesigned schools include a STEMM Campus at DeVilbiss; Old Orchard would become a lab research school, making use of its proximity to University of Toledo; and the South End would have an international program for students whom English is a second language. The international program would integrate culture, business and language.
The board also wants to look into working with the juvenile court system and agencies to provide a boarding school for at-risk youth at the old Leverette building.
Rogers High School’s core concepts would teach the health-related fields with an emphasis on sports medicine and management and health and allied sciences. Bowsher High School’s core concept would be performing arts.
Waite would also integrate its diversity by becoming an international school with a focus on foreign language and business. Start High School would offer an International Baccalaureate program.
Scott High School would become a teacher prep academy. Woodward High School would focus on social service and public safety while learning from Toledo safety services and law enforcement.
The long-term goal of having schools based on focus areas like teaching and public service is that after students graduate, they will come back and work with TPS and within the community, Gault said.
The other six goals are to establish Toledo as the school district of choice for students in the region; increase the graduation rate for all students and prepare them with skills for competing successfully in a global economy; replicate effective programs and eliminate or reform unproductive practices; develop a district-wide culture of high expectations for student success; hold everyone in the district accountable for their performance; and “rightsize” the district so it is efficient and effective.
Part of “rightsizing” the district would include shifting boundary lines for East Side Central, LaGrange and the second DeVeaux building and moving Crossgates to Byrnedale.