We all have reason to be proud of our distinction as the top-rated urban school district in the state of Ohio. We are leading the state — and, in many ways, the nation — as an effective and innovative urban school district in which student achievement is on the rise. This reflects well on everyone associated with Cincinnati Public Schools: teachers and staff, administrators, students, parents, our school board and the community as a whole.
Numerous factors must come together in order for the district to perform well, with financial resources playing a major role. While our commitment to providing Cincinnati’s students with the highest quality education has never wavered, our budget, unfortunately, has continued to shrink year after year. Despite being fiscally responsible and making tough decisions to hold spending flat, state and federal budget cutbacks, lower property tax collections and the worst economy since the Great Depression have greatly decreased our revenues. As we begin to develop the 2012-13 General Fund budget, we face a funding gap of $43 million.
Today I’m reaching out to you for three reasons: to make you aware of our budgetary challenges, to let you know that difficult decisions need to be made in regard to programs, and to seek your input on some of those decisions.
On Tuesday, February 14, 2012, the district launched a Budget Survey, asking you to share your awareness level of our budget issues and the steps we’ve already taken to reduce costs, as well as to tell us what programs and services you think are most important to our children.
The survey will close on Friday, March 2, so please be sure to respond as soon as you can. We will be launching the survey as part of a collaboration underwritten through the generosity of the GE Foundation in conjunction with K12 Insight, an independent research and communication firm.
As I sit down with district administrators and the school board to discuss how best to cope with our reduced resources, the board and I want your voice to be one of the many influencing factors in our extended conversation. In addition to weighing which programs are most important to you, we also will review how those programs impact each student’s education.
We encourage you to complete this survey online if possible. If your e-mail address is in our system, you will receive an e-mail invitation to participate in the survey. If you do not receive an invitation, please access the survey on the district’s Website at www.cps-k12.org.
You may visit any CPS school to access the survey online. Computer access to the survey also will be provided at the CPS Education Center, 2651 Burnet Avenue in Corryville, through our Customer Help Center and Human Resources kiosks. Computer access to the survey also will be available at the main and local branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
At the end of the survey, you will be asked to provide the district with an e-mail address so we can reach out to you via e-mail in the future.
If you are unable to access this survey online, please call (513) 363-0020 and request that a paper survey be mailed to you. We want you to be part of this process so you can share your views.
Please note that K12 Insight will provide us with reports and analysis in such a way that your feedback will remain anonymous and confidential, and your identity will not be associated with your response.
Once the survey is completed, we will share the feedback in an open and transparent process.
This survey is a first step toward an ongoing, broader conversation, in which we all feel free to speak candidly. In exchange for your constructive feedback, we promise greater transparency into district operations. Working through this challenge together not only will strengthen our commitment to our children but also strengthen our bond as a community.
Mary A. Ronan, Superintendent