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News: CPS Shake Up

New board members but no money

By Margo Pierce · November 11th, 2007 · News
Eve Bolton hugs a supporter after winning a spot on the Cincinnati Public School Board.
Natalie Hager

Eve Bolton hugs a supporter after winning a spot on the Cincinnati Public School Board.

Election Day Slide Show - Click Here

The students and administrators of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are in for some serious changes. In addition to the defeat of Issue 22, the school levy, three new faces will be seen at board of education meetings come January.

Michael Flannery, the top vote-getter (40,530 votes, about 32 percent) was closely followed by Eve Bolton (37,260 votes, about 30 percent) and Chris Nelms (28,314 votes, about 23 percent).

The lone incumbent on the school board, Rick Williams, was a distant fourth, receiving 18,859 votes, about 15 percent.

Prior to the election the three top vote-getters ran on a common slate of reform and talked with each other regularly about their vision for how to effect change on the board if elected.

Saying that he plans on being at the Nov. 9 meeting of the school board as it begins to plan a search for a new superintendent, Flannery said he's been doing his homework in that area. As various school boards around the country have been conducting searches for superintendents, he's been reading up on the qualifications of candidates and the process by which the schools are executing their searches.

"I'm honored that the voters have given me this opportunity," Flannery said. "I am looking forward to being able to participate in the school system my children attend."

Even after a day of campaigning, Flannery was still willing to make jokes at 1:30 a.m., pointing out that he got more votes than any single Cincinnati City Council member. But he said he's still amazed that people are questioning his ability to do the job.

"It's an unpaid position that nobody wants," he said, "and they're questioning my qualifications?"

Still, he's excited about being on the board and is happy that nobody held his TV background against him when going to the polls.

Getting right down to business, Bolton pointed to the wide margin by which the school tax levy failed and called the defeat and the election of three new members a mandate for change from the community. The final count on Issue 22 was 38,538 votes (about 58 percent) against the levy and 27,810 votes (about 41 percent) in favor.

Bolton said doing things differently and communicating effectively is what it's going to take to win back voter confidence.

"The children of Cincinnati need to know that this is not a comment about them," she said. "This is about grownups having something to say about the people running the school system."

Bolton and the others will have the daunting challenge of figuring out which programs and services to cut from what many inside the system have already said is a "bare bones" system. The right-sizing strategy implemented to bring student/teacher ratios in line, the elimination of some new construction from the CPS building plan and a serious lack of funding from the state means the $69 million shortfall that's looming will likely result in the elimination of some essentials -- like teachers and classes.

For some odd reason, Nelms wasn't available to comment on these points at 1:30 a.m. Nor did Janet Walsh, CPS spokeswoman, respond to a request for a comment. ©



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