E.L. Ross reclaims space after rezoning

By KAITLIN GEBBY
Posted 11/15/19

Cleveland City Schools is reaping the rewards of rezoning its school district after the addition of Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary School this fall. During a tour of E.L. Ross, Director of …

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E.L. Ross reclaims space after rezoning

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Cleveland City Schools is reaping the rewards of rezoning its school district after the addition of Candy’s Creek Cherokee Elementary School this fall. 


During a tour of E.L. Ross, Director of Schools Russell Dyer and E.L. Ross Principal Stephanie Stone pointed out how they have been able to reclaim classroom space throughout their school, which was plagued by overcrowding prior to the opening of Candy’s Creek. 


Stone pointed out several areas that had been repurposed or were completely inaccessible for normal use during the period of overpopulation. Numerous classrooms at each grade level have been reclaimed. The school saw a more even distribution of space between grade levels and was able to rededicate hallways to specific grade levels. 


In addition, the school has reclaimed its conference room for its original purpose and is working on a  new sensory room that Stone said wouldn’t be possible without the rezoning efforts. 


Using GuideK12, an analytics program that the district utilized specifically for rezoning, Cleveland City Schools approached the challenge of rezoning with the ultimate goal of creating adequate space and equity among grade levels and “keeping neighborhoods together.” 


Dyer said they “tried to remove all emotion” from the process to focus on what boundaries made sense. He said it was difficult knowing that students would be at a new school, away from the friends and classrooms they were used to; “but kids are resilient.” 


“We knew that redrawing these zones was sensitive in nature and possibly contentious, so we wanted to do it in a way that was as logical as possible,” Dyer said. 


By offering open houses throughout the spring and summer, Stone said worries among students and parents were put to rest as they were introduced to their new hallways, classrooms and teachers. 


“We wanted to make this transition as easy as possible and give everyone the opportunity to see their school, ask questions, whatever they needed,” she said. 


A makeshift guidance office last year is now a proper conference room at E.L. Ross. Teachers noticed how students would gravitate toward comfortable spaces and are now able to create those without the overabundance of desks in their rooms and hallways. 


Art classes have returned to creative spaces. Music rooms are making music again.  Dyer said the rezoning means Cleveland City Schools has room to breathe again. 


Ultimately, 55% of the student population was affected by rezoning. 


Dyer credited the GuideK12 program with the success of their rezoning. He said Cleveland City Schools employees are participating in a webinar soon, explaining how they worked to make the process as seamless as possible as an example to other interested schools. 


“Rezoning even a successful district can be a hot topic, but GuideK12 was a big component of a very smooth process for Cleveland City Schools,” Dyer said. “You can’t win over everyone on everything, but I can’t believe how well things went. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without GuideK12.” 


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