Interim Superintendent Mary Ronan is making plans to accelerate achievement in Cincinnati Public Schools by beefing up support for the district's lowest-performing schools, creating innovative educational approaches, and redirecting resources to support strategies designed to prepare students to be successful in the 21st century.
"We live in exponential times," she said during a Progress Report to the Community at the district's Education Center. "Technology is changing rapidly. There are vast increases in information. And competition for jobs has reached global proportions. Too often, when faced with such challenges, the educational world has looked to the past for solutions, instead of looking to the future. We can't afford to do that any longer in CPS."
Instead, Ronan called for CPS to "push for innovations," despite the tight economic times.
She said she would recommend several of those strategies as priorities for the district's 2009-10 budget, including expanding foreign language offerings in the district, restructuring school coaching support to provide the most resources to the lowest-performing schools, and providing curriculum experts to ensure rigorous content in math, science, social studies, English/language arts, foreign language and technology.
Ronan also called for an Office of Innovation to be created in CPS. She said the office would research successful school models, design and manage programming of new schools, and hold schools accountable for high student achievement and performance. Other responsibilities of the Office of Innovation would include recommending changes in the collective bargaining work rules, such as a different learning calendar, and designing and supporting incentive pay plans.
During her community report, Ronan also described progress the district has made this year on the Board of Education's four goals:
- Accelerate academic achievement
- Increase financial stability and transparency
- Establish and maintain a safe, orderly and culturally responsive environment, and
- Keep the students we have, graduate more students, attract more students and teach all of them.
Throughout Ronan's presentation, she highlighted partnerships with parents and community members that are contributing to progress in the district of more than 34,000 students.
Students from several CPS schools also participated. They included greetings from English Language Learners at the Academy of World Languages; a string quartet from the School for Creative and Performing Arts; a soloist from Schiel Primary School for Arts Enrichment; a poet from West Side Montessori; and student success stories from Aiken College and Career High School and Western Hills University High School.