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Published: Tuesday, 7/1/2003

School for boys has supporters, skeptics

Romaine James sat at central Toledo's Lincoln Elementary last night with her two sons - ages 4 and 7 - hoping her expectations for the two boys' schooling would be met.

Ms. James was among 150 people who attended an open house at the school for parents and pupils interested in attending the Lincoln Academy for Boys.

“I have heard that single-sex schools are really good,” Ms. James said. “I also like the idea that they will have uniforms.”

In September, the district is converting Lincoln Elementary School, 1801 North Detroit Ave., into one of four all-boy buildings in the state's public districts. Under the same plan, Stewart Elementary School will become Ohio's only all-girl public school.

The Stewart Academy for Girls, 707 Avondale Ave., will host an open house at 6:30 p.m. today.

During last night's 90-minute meeting, Toledo Public Schools officials described how children can be enrolled; how the parental involvement contract for 10 hours a year of volunteer work will be administered, and how the school will function.

“We didn't set out to be in the national attention. We set out to raise test scores,” Superintendent Eugene Sanders said.

Board member Larry Sykes made a passionate promise to the crowd that Lincoln Academy would become an institution that parents from other neighborhoods will want to send their children to.

“People sit up and say `this is new' and `it's never been done before.' Well, those were the same things they said when we opened Old West End Academy, and that has been successful,” Mr. Sykes said.

During a question-and-answer period, a few people criticized the single-sex concept.

Claudia Cooper, who has family members with children in the district, said the school lacks enough male and minority teachers to act as role models for young boys.

“You have systematically rid the system of people of color and people with experience,” she said before the crowd, which was mostly African-American. “It bothers me that most of the teachers are white women.”

Mr. Sanders responded by saying the school would be not be an “all-black school. This is an all-male school.”

After the meeting, Mr. Sykes added that the district would be recruiting male and minority teachers.

Carnell Noble, whose 10-year-old nephew attended Stewart last year, said he doesn't see the benefit in creating an all-male school.

“If you separate them, they might have trouble making friends with the opposite sex and they won't know how to interact,” Mr. Noble said.



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