Over the next decade, the Cincinnati
Public Schools (CPS) will implement an ambitious plan to improve school facilities
across the district. Combining funds from local tax dollars, tax abatement linked to the
construction of Cincinnati's new stadium, and state dollars, CPS will renovate, retrofit,
and, in some cases, rebuild schools.
The plan to renovate and build new facilities presents a unique opportunity to engage
those who have the greatest stake in the success of their neighborhood schools - the
parents, students, school staff and teachers, and other community members - in a process
to design schools that are truly responsive to the needs of the whole community.
To that end, KnowledgeWorks Foundation,
the Children's Defense Fund,
Cincinnati Public Schools, and Concordia,
Inc. have piloted an initiative to create Community Learning Centers in six Cincinnati
neighborhoods. Community Learning Centers are schools that bring together multiple
partners to offer a range of services and opportunities to children, youth, families, and
communities - before, during and after school, and on weekends - to raise student
achievement and contribute to the healthy development of neighborhoods. The successful
development of these Community Learning Centers during the Cincinnati Public Schools'
Facilities Planning process can only occur with the committed and ongoing participation of
a wide cross-section of community members.
Community members in Walnut Hills have completed
the first phase of their work and have submitted a proposal to Cincinnati Public Schools
for a new Community Learning Center in the heart of their community. Avondale community
members have been working for several months on developing proposals to serve their
neighborhood and expect to submit a proposal to CPS in the spring of 2002. The
Over-the-Rhine community began planning for their community learning centers in January of
2002 and expects to submit a proposal in the fall of 2002.
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization
that has been instrumental in engaging the community in school reform efforts for the past
two years. CDF has successfully helped several Cincinnati Public Schools organize and
empower their Local School Decision Making Councils and Parent Teacher Organizations;
facilitated staff and curriculum changes at schools that were selected for complete
overhauls based on the district's Accountability Plan; and redesigned the training offered
to members of the Local School Decision Making Councils. CDF organizes and facilitates
meetings of the Community Learning Center steering committees.
KnowledgeWorks Foundation is the lead
funder of the Community Learning Centers pilot initiative. KnowledgeWorks Foundation
is Ohio's largest public education philanthropy. The Foundation provides
and leadership for education initiatives throughout the state and is focused on removing
barriers to quality education.
The P&G Fund is an additional partner in
the funding of the Community Learning Centers pilot initiative. Located in
Cincinnati, the P&G Fund is a separately chartered corporate foundation, which manages
the Procter & Gamble Company's charitable contributions. The primary focus
of The Fund is education, which P&G considers the primary vehicle to solving many of
the problems facing communities.
Concordia, Inc., a nationally known architecture and planning firm,
has developed a community engagement process over the last 15 years that has been
implemented in rural, suburban, and urban communities throughout the country. Steven
Bingler, President of Concorida, Inc., co-authored a publication of the U.S. Department of
Education: Schools as Centers of Community: A Citizen's Guide for Planning and Design.
Working closely with CDF, the Concordia Planning Process is now being implemented in
Walnut Hills, Avondale and Over the Rhine.