quality schools key to retaining residents, study says

Many young professionals living in the city eventually become parents, trading in their preoccupation with trendy bars for a newfound obsession with play dates, baby gates and high-quality schools.

Yet in any urban area, finding a good school can be tricky. Like the Clash song, a refrain echoes in their heads: “Should I stay or should I go?”

A new study says that for many Cleveland residents, quality public schools could make the difference between choosing to stay and moving to the suburbs.

Recently, a team of researchers at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs surveyed 271 residents of Ohio City, Tremont, Detroit Shoreway and downtown regarding their opinions of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).

Of those surveyed, 51 percent said they were either parents of young children or were planning to have kids in the future. Sixty five percent of this group said they were eventually planning to move out of Cleveland or “weren’t sure” of their plans. An “excellent” or “effective” public school in their neighborhood could influence them to stay, they said.

“Retaining and growing the local property tax base, which feeds the public school system, will depend on the ability of these neighborhoods to attract and maintain middle-class residents,” says Angie Schmitt, who recently earned a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from CSU’s Levin College and is one of the study’s authors.

She adds, “Failing schools encourage residential turnover within this population, creating a cycle of concentrated poverty that further handicaps urban schools.”

The study outlines reform efforts taking place in Cleveland, including the creation of the Near West Intergenerational School, a new charter school that aims to launch this year.

2/10/11

www.freshwatercleveland.com/devnews

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