A year ago, Toledo Public School administrators presented a blueprint for change in the district, a transformation plan.
Middle schools and elementary schools would be dropped, and K-8 neighborhood schools adopted. Special education students would leave self-contained classrooms and join their peers in traditional settings. Students in seventh- and eighth-grade would be eligible for high school level courses.
Now, administrators say they’ve kept the promises they made, and there’s more changes to come. TPS officials held two community meetings this week, presenting their accomplishments, the challenges still faced, the financial state of the district, and their plans for next year. They also talked about the near conclusion of the district’s $640 million “Building for Success” construction and renovation program.
“We took this district,” chief academic officer Jim Gault said, “turned it upside down, and started over.”
Turnout at the community meetings so far has been light, in contrast with much better attended meetings when the transformation plan was presented. It was standing room only in the Birmingham cafeteria Thursday evening, but most parents were there for a children’s performance before the TPS presentation. The room cleared out after the singing stopped.
Community members that did stay tossed softer questions than TPS officials got in 2011. Some asked if special education would be scrapped entirely with the move to inclusion. Others asked if district administrators have given help to teachers in new grades this year.
Some like the changes. And the new building at Birmingham is a hit. Ronald Curtis came to see his grandson sing, but stuck around to hear what administrators had to say. He said he’s seen good things at the school this year.
“They’re starting in the right direction,” Mr. Curtis said.
According to documents TPS officials distributed before the transformation plan was implemented, administrators have kept most of the promises they made about program and structural change, now looking toward whether the changes will bring about real academic improvement.
Administrators will hold one more meeting March 6 at Woodward High School. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.
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