"I come before you tonight to report that Cincinnati is experiencing a rebirth. The state of our city is strong and growing stronger," Mallory said to applause. "It has been a busy year, and I'm happy to report we've been successful in advancing our agenda."
Although the Queen City had 89 homicides in 2006, the highest number of killings since the city standardized its police recordkeeping in 1950, Mallory said there's cause for hope that the trend will stop this year. After his plea last year for greater community involvement in helping to fight crime, calls to Crime Stoppers increased dramatically and led to a jump in arrests, he said. Also, police are prosecuting criminals under tougher federal gun laws when possible and have conducted crackdowns in Over-the-Rhine, East Price Hill and elsewhere.
Now the city will implement a youth violence intervention initiative based on the work of criminologist David Kennedy, which has been used to great success in Boston and other cities (see "Finally Ready for a Ceasefire," issue of Feb.
7); will hire 60 more police officers in the next two years; and will expand a partnership with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office to help city police patrol several neighborhoods.
Citing recent U.S. Census statistics that a decades-long population exodus from the city has bottomed out and is poised for a reversal, Mallory tallied the number of new housing units built in Cincinnati during the past year. They include 205 apartments and 53 condominiums in Corryville, 60 condos in Westwood, 34 new homes in Columbia Tusculum, 32 homes in Madisonville, 26 condos in Over-the-Rhine and 22 townhouses in Evanston. Further, more than 200 condos are under construction downtown, and 2,000 more are proposed.
"It's clear that people really do want to live in the city of Cincinnati," Mallory said.
School Closing Moves Closer
Carthage Paideia Academy could close even earlier than scheduled, thanks to a Feb. 26 vote by the Cincinnati Public School (CPS) Board of Education. The board had voted Dec. 11 to close the school, part of a reconfiguration of the CPS Facilities Master Plan (see "Cutting Classes," issue of Dec. 13, 2006). The most recent decision allows administrators to close the school early if enrollment declines justify it. But enrollment is certain to decline because the district isn't taking registration for kindergarten there, according to Thad Long, whose child attends the school.
"We were told a few months back, before the holidays, that our school possibly would be left open for the 2007/2008 school year," Long told the board. "I feel like that decision's already been made to lower the enrollment of Carthage Paideia. So, come the end of this year what decision's left on the table is, 'Enrollment's down, we need to save money.' "
Superintendent Rosa Blackwell acknowledged that no children are being accepted into the kindergarten program for next academic year but reminded Long about a meeting at the school earlier this year.
"First and foremost I reminded you that the board had recommended closing of Carthage in the original (facilities master plan)," Blackwell said. "I did tell you that that was slated for June of '08. However, if in fact it appeared that the numbers were decreasing to the point where we did not have the option, we might have to close earlier. ... It is not fair to you to inform you at the 11th hour that Carthage is closing. It is our attempt to give you the professional courtesy of letting you know that it may close before '08 so that you have an opportunity to look at other schools."
A few minutes later the shortest speaker approached the podium and dropped a stepstool in place so he could reach the microphone.
"My name is Jarad Long. I am in the third grade at Carthage Paideia," he said. "I have come here tonight to tell you that I am sad. You're not only going to close my school but close one year earlier than it was planned. What options are you putting in place for next school year? Please don't close my school."
Jarad received a round of applause for his courage and willingness to stand before a room full of adults. But the board still approved the request to close the school early if it becomes necessary.
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