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Published: Friday, 5/15/2009

TPS board OKs closings, staff cuts

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Board of Education on Friday morning approved closing two schools and cutting more than 100 positions to trim a projected $10 million shortfall for the coming year.

The board voted 5-0 to approve Superintendent John Foley s recommendations to shutter Nathan Hale and Fulton elementary schools and cut the 116.5 positions.

The cuts are needed to address capacity issues in the Toledo Public Schools, which lost 1,600 students this year and anticipates more enrollment loss next year, Mr. Foley said.

Shuttering the two elementary schools is expected to save $1 million.

The school board also approved a compromise to changes at Cherry Preschool that would move units in clusters so there will continue to be collaboration among them.

Cherry Preschool, now at Ottawa River Elementary, needs to move because that space is needed for 6th and 7th grade students as the school transitions to a K-8 building.

But parents and teachers enjoy the collaboration and services that can be provided by having all 11 units in one place, the school board heard during a public hearing on Wednesday.

So the compromise approved Friday is to move the preschool units in clusters two to Old Orchard Elementary in the Start learning community, two to Old West End Academy in the Scott area, and keep three at Cherry Preschool for the Woodward community.

Those three units will stay where they are for the upcoming year, but cannot stay there beyond that. After the addition to Ottawa River is complete for a K-8 building the preschool site will need to be torn down for parking.

"We re trying to implement a long-range plan and this gives us a transition year to do that," Mr. Foley said.

There are three preschool units at Glendale-Fielbach Elementary in the Bowsher area and the district s other programs at Washington Preschool are being moved temporarily to the former Libbe-Owens-Ford building so that Lincoln Academy for Boys can be relocated there.

The long-term plan is for those to also be divided among neighborhood schools.

The school board members said they were glad they received community input on the decisions and that their views were taken into the resolution brought before the board Friday morning.

"I just want to make sure the public knows we listen to them," Bob Vasquez said.

He said the compromise was made for the preschool because it wasn t a direct fiscal issue as closing the elementary schools was.

He made a personal plea for those Nathan Hale and Fulton parents to stay with TPS. The new King Elementary School is scheduled to open near those schools for the 2009-10 school year.

"I am asking them to stay with us, to give us a chance to try to work through whatever issues there are moving to new schools," Mr. Vasquez said.



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