LORAIN — District CEO David Hardy spoke to a room of faculty, parents and concerned community members on the final draft of his improvement plan.
The presentation gave the final details of the plan Thursday evening in the Lorain City Council Chambers. One of the highlights included the implementation of five separate academies for students in high school. The academies will be geared toward preparing students for careers after high school, which include early college, advanced placement, career and STEM, performing arts and the New Beginnings Academy.
Hardy said the latest reviews of the five initiatives of the promise plan run parallel to a survey of 327 teachers of the nearly 490 in the district about their feelings toward the initiatives. The survey showed a 70 to 80 percent-range of approval for all but the fifth initiative, which had 68.7 percent. The fifth initiative focuses on preparing schools for the world of tomorrow and the five academies.
Hardy said he understands teachers have the least approval for that initiative because of rumors that New Beginnings Academy will come to the high school, which is not confirmed. The academy — currently at 307 W. 7th St. — instructs students who have come from other schools because of misbehavior or truancy. They attend in lieu of expulsion or are returning from expulsion from their original school.
“There is a perception of who they are and what they’ve done and there is no way forward without having them in a separate space and there’s a deeper conversation we need to have with the folks at the high school about making that happen,” he said. “But I do think it’s possible.”
If it doesn’t work out, Hardy promised he’d listen to the high school’s ideas of where to put the academy instead.
Councilman Angel Arroyo, D-6th Ward, whose 4-year-old daughter Angelise attends preschool, went to the meeting. He said he is looking very intently at the changes coming to the district in which his daughter will learn and grow. He was also interested in the presentation about the New Beginnings Academy, because he worked with at-risk youth before coming to council.
“I’m glad that he’s going to focus on that and give them an opportunity and that’s what those kids need,” he said.
Hardy also addressed some of the rumors about his decisions as CEO, such as firing 25 staff members and making uneducated changes, which he said were untrue. Hardy said he understands the level of distrust and uncertainty and apologized to the crowd.
“I hope that you can trust that everything I say, everything that I do, I do with a great deal of integrity and the people I that I bring to this team will do the same,” he said.
The first chief positions will be identified as early as next week, Hardy said, starting as early as Feb. 20 and have a full chief team by mid-March. Additionally, the district will conduct a districtwide pilot initiative March 15 where the improvement plan’s initiatives will do a trial run and then review what works April 12 and make any changes before it officially starts in the fall.
At the end of the presentation, Hardy ended the discussion with a picture of a surfer on a wave, which represents the district’s current position.
“There’s a big wave of momentum, and it’s this singular moment in time we need to take advantage of it,” he said. “With House Bill 70, with the fear, trepidation and challenge it presented, here’s an opportunity use the powers it has given us to do something great for our kids.”
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