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Published: Wednesday, 3/13/2002

School reformer lauds turnout at TPS retreat

Philip Schlechty was impressed when he looked out on the group of administrators, teachers, union and business leaders, and parents at the Toledo Public Schools Committee for School Reform retreat yesterday.

Mr. Schlechty, chief executive officer of the Center For Leadership in School Reform in Louisville, Ky., said he was surprised by the number of business people and community leaders who returned for the daylong retreat after attending its program Monday night.

“I think this speaks very well for the community and its support of the schools here,” Mr. Schlechty said. “These are some pretty hard-nosed people here who don't tolerate a lot of fooling around and wouldn't have invested their time in something that they don't think would be fruitful.”

The committee is charged with plotting a new course for the district and Mr. Schlechty is overseeing the effort.

Superintendent Eugene Sanders and school board members sat across various tables from the committee members and talked about their views of the schools and how businesses and other elements of the community could play a more important role. “This has been a great process,” said board President Peter Silverman. “We're able to talk, educate each other on our common goals instead of operating in a crisis form like proficiency test scores.”

The school-reform committee evolved from a committee assembled to help the district pass its 6.5-mill operating levy in November. The retreat was geared to get members to look at all aspects of the district's performance.

The district has been under an “academic emergency” designation because of the low passage rate of students on state proficiency test scores.

Mr. Silverman said his goal is to have a completed plan from the committee by April.

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