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Above The Fray
Greater Cincinnati leads the state in education excellence. In fact, according to the State of Ohio Department of Education’s annual school rankings (as reported by The Columbus Dispatch), five of the top 20 state school districts—Indian Hill, Wyoming, Mariemont, Madeira, and Sycamore—are right here in Hamilton County. Each of these districts received state ratings of “Excellent” or “Excellent with Distinction,” placing them alongside the very best public schools in the country. These districts and many others around the Cincinnati region have enjoyed longstanding traditions of academic success. But they, along with the rest of the state, are still susceptible to potentially crippling budget and resource constraints. Yet even in the face of a grim financial forecast and other challenges, they still manage to maintain an exceptional showing. So how are they weathering the storm? We looked at a few of the city and region’s finest institutions to find out.While Greater Cincinnati enjoys a first-rate culture of private and parochial institutions at every grade level, one of the city’s most impressive amenities is its crop of outstanding public schools, which depend entirely on the support of local, state, and federal funds for their operation. Take Wyoming City School District, now ...
Little Miami, Big Trouble
The bleachers are packed so tight that latecomers to Little Miami High School’s June graduation ceremony have to take up spots along the fence around the stadium. Students sit in two columns of yellow and green robes on the football field. Just to the east sits the Jeffersonian-looking high school, all red brick and white trim and large windows. The class of 2011 was the first to occupy the expanded school, where 22 classrooms were added in 2008 thanks to a bond voters approved in 2006 to accommodate a growing student body. This warm, sunny evening should be a celebration, but the students sound more like survivors than conquerors. When class president Zachary Fitzgerald cites the requisite celebrity quote in his speech, it isn’t Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. It’s late basketball coach Jim Valvano, who said: “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” The reason for the doom-and-gloom amid all the sun and proud mothers with digital cameras in their hands is this: The Little Miami School district is in “fiscal emergency”—a designation given to schools that cannot bring their budget deficits down to Ohio Department of Education standards. A state commission has taken control of the ...
Making the Grade
Today’s schools are presented opportunities—and face challenges—like never before, and Greater Cincinnati schools continue to forge education’s future. “These are exciting times for Cincinnati,” says Mary Welsh Schlueter, CEO and Founder of Partnership for Innovation in Education (PIE), a local nonprofit aimed at bolstering educational institutions. “Cincinnati represents a hub of entrepreneurship when it comes to educational innovation.” This hub—spanning all geographical corners and grade levels, including urban public, suburban public, private, and parochial schools—has attracted global interest. The programs highlighted here represent just a slim case sampling from a brimming pool of regional innovation for how Cincinnati has become head of the class. Extras in Education Functioning like extra credit, value-added portfolio schools are designed to meet state requirements while specializing in an “extra” curriculum value. Cincinnati’s such schools offer focused avenues like the sciences, foreign languages, performing arts, and beyond. In fall 2009, Hughes STEM High School embraced the nationally budding STEM model, a forward-thinking approach emphasizing the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. “Hughes is the most ambitious and largest STEM school in the state,” says Virginia Rhodes, principal of Hughes’ 950-member student body. Students may apply to one of four STEM majors—Health Sciences, Engineering Futures, ...
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