From The Publisher's Desk: Schools Open - Back To Work
I try not to abuse my position with the Lakewood Observer, I believe-- as all of the founders did when we started this project-- that the words of civic leaders, City Hall, the residents and the businesses in Lakewood are far more important unfiltered than anything we could distill and feed to you as a "report." However, occasionally and with the urging of some leaders in the community, I am starting to put a series of thoughts, looks and observations into the Lakewood Observer, and onto the streets. Please understand, these are my views, they are not the collective views of the Lakewood Observer, Observer Projects or AGS/Human Tribe. They are simply things I feel we all need to think about as they apply to our city, schools, and our lives.
“Superintendent Sees Need For All Schools”! And like so many things in this bipolar community, some people are too happy, some people are too sad. Dancing in the streets, before the ball has even passed the 30 yard line. This often happens when life takes on the feeling of a sporting event, and so many issues in this day and age seems desperately in search of WINNERS and LOSERS, instead of what it means to us as residents and a community.
Many tried so hard in the recent competition between Lincoln and Grant Schools, that some in the city were brought yet again to the verge of a civil war, that got positively uncivil at times. So when the news came out that enrollment was up, and that Lakewood City Schools’ Superintendent Jeffrey Patterson was advising against closing any school right now there were cheers and jeers, but let's look at the facts, and see what's really going on.
One of the many reasons that the city is filling up again, is that after the housing boom, Lakewood took a 30% hit in the price of homes, as did many cities across the nation, so those who have work and great credit can buy homes in the best community in Ohio. Those without the best of credit, or who have realized owning is not for them are filling in the rentals which account for 52% of the housing in Lakewood. And then we have Mayor Summers' initative to tear down properties and replace them with Habitat for Humantity homes for those that cannot afford to buy but can put some sweat equity into living in LAkewood. No matter the reason, enrollement is up and more people in Lakewood is a good thing!
So while families are growing, and schools are needed to be kept open, the actual dollars coming into the system are greatly reduced. Throw in the cuts made to eduction on the state level, and we see that cuts already imposed by the schools are still not enough to carry us through the coming years. Administration has cut so much it is becoming very uncomfortable to cut even more! We must continue to support the very things that make Lakewood the best place to live and raise a family.
While I was talking with Superintendent Jeffrey Patterson he said, "Earlier this year I had the opportunity to speak with over 800 community and staff members about what they value most as we looked at making financial reductions going into this school year. Overwhelmingly, the responses included maintaining our core curriculum, the gifted program, art, music and extra-curricular activities. There was also a strong push to keep our primary class sizes as low as possible. Our trend of increasing enrollment is a sign that our community believes we are on the right path and that the District is providing a quality education for Lakewood’s youth."
School Board President Betsy Shaughnessy stated, "In my 19 years of being on the School Board, I have never seen such a coming together of everyone to help make the cuts we have all been forced to make. The Lakewood Teachers' Association has been great through all of the negotiations, as have all the administrators and the teachers. However, with an additional school to pay for now, it has just gotten much tougher, not easier, on all of us."
In the spring, I am sure we will hear talk of an operating levy, and we are in that part of the endless cycle caused by HB 920 which makes the schools ask for more money.
And in reality, any gain from a 10 point levy will be eaten away by what we have lost through state cuts, but in Lakewood, since the day I was born here, Lakewood has stood for "The best place to live, and raise a family" and that means educating both the children and the residents.
Now is the time to pay attention to what is happening in the Lakewood City School District. Maintaining our outstanding schools will take support from all of us. Stay informed and get involved.
Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.