By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
Enrolled (in college), enlisted (in the military services) or employed (locally) are the three E’s guiding Cincinnati Public Schools officials and staff in preparing students for their futures, said district Superintendent Laura Mitchell at a back-to-school address outlining the priorities of the 2018-2019 academic year. Mitchell spoke to an audience of about 250 parents, residents and business leaders Aug. 10 at her alma mater, the School for the Creative and Performing at 108 Central Parkway.
Students returned to classes in Southwest Ohio’s largest school district on Aug. 15.
Destination Cincinnati was the theme of the event.
“Cincinnati public will continue to make Cincinnati a place of destination, drawing families to its neighborhoods. Our students will have the skills to fill the jobs we have here in our city,’’ said Mitchell.
In addition to Mitchell, speakers included Dr. Neville Pinto, president, University of Cincinnati; Jill Meyer, president, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; Daylan Dallas, student, Woodward Career Technical High School; Maj. David Swisher, Ohio Army National Guard; and Michael Johnson, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
The event highlighted the priorities of the upcoming school year – including the expansion of initiatives to prepare students for success in postsecondary education and the workplace, as well as improve the district’s neighborhood schools.
IN DISCUSSING Mitchell’s three Es of preparing students to enroll in college, enlist in the military services or enter the workforce, she said Cincinnati Public Schools is improving in preparing students for their futures only through the numerous partnerships developed between the school district and local businesses, colleges and institutions. She mentioned school districts she has visited in other major cities do not share in the types of partnerships present here.
Carolyn Jones, CPS Board of Education president, said the district has more than 800 community and business partners that work with the schools daily. “Cincinnati Public Schools is strong because of these relationships,’’ she said.
The regional chamber’s Jill Meyer said Cincinnati businesses are stepping up as never before in joining with CPS to create a pipeline for students to become employed. She noted that Belcam Engineering Services has started a fiber optics academy at Taft Information High School that can lead to jobs paying $80,000 per year. DHL Express added a logistics program at district schools last year. The list goes on, Mitchell said, noting the “rich partnerships’’ the district has with GE Aviation, Messer Construction, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati State, Miami University, PNC Bank, Cincinnati Works, and others.
UC’s Pinto talked about the university’s partnership with CPS through the advanced placement courses in which high school students earned college credits en route to early admission to the university.
Maj. Swisher, a CPS graduate and local attorney, discussed the importance of academic excellence for those becoming a part of the nation’s technically sophisticated armed services, with Mitchell adding that the CPS goal here is to get students enrolled in the military academies.
“People are wanting to live in Cincinnati because we have a great school system, and providing our children with the best education possible is the best way to combat poverty in the city,’’ she said.
CPS IS MEASURING its successes, Mitchell said, in kindergarten readiness, literacy and math proficiencies and in other disciplines with the help of data analysis provided by Children’s Hospital.
”We are testing what is working, and we will not proceed without testing a program’s success,’’ she said.
In all of these areas, Mitchell said district officials are preparing students for more than entry-level positions. “These are the expectations we have of our students,’’ she said.
In 2018, 93 percent of CPS graduates were either accepted into a college program, enlisted in the military or entered the workforce. Seventy-six percent of those graduates declared college acceptance and were awarded a total of $60 million in college scholarships.
More families are choosing Cincinnati Public Schools because of this record and a number of other factors, Mitchell said.
By the numbers, there are 4,462 more students enrolled since 2013. Three new schools opened: Spencer for gifted and exceptional students; a language enrichment academy proficiency Leap Academy; and Carthage School, for preschoolers and kindergarten students. More than 80 percent of CPS preschools have a five=star rating, and there are 500 more preschoolers in classes than just three years ago. Students who met Ohio’s third-grade reading guarantee jumped to 96 percent last year from 84 percent in 2015-16. Proficiency in third grade literacy, an education benchmark, increased by 14 percent. More students are taking advanced placement courses or multiple AP courses. ACT test scores are comparable to those throughout Ohio.
Michael Johnson, United Way’s new president and CEO, said he was also a graduate of CPS, but the school district in Illinois known as Chicago Public Schools.
“However, my school district did not have a vision like the one I’ve heard outlined here,’’ he said.