The Cleveland Metropolitan School District's new CEO Warren Morgan held his first State of the Schools address on Thursday, using feedback he had gathered from more than 30 listening sessions in Cleveland to inform his work.
The event, hosted by the City Club of Cleveland at the Huntington Convention Center's Grand Ballroom, landed on Morgan’s 108th day as CEO after he succeeded former CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. Previously, Morgan was the Chief Academic Officer for Indianapolis Public Schools and worked as a White House Fellow for former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Morgan’s inaugural State of the Schools address followed an extensive “listening tour” with students, parents, teachers and community members. In those listening sessions, concerns centered around safety and security, nutritious school lunches and portions, sports programs, transportation and more. Some of Morgan’s listening sessions took place at school cafeteria tables; others, on school buses and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority routes that some CMSD students take to school.
Morgan shared some plans — like a community volunteer door-knocking program, set for this spring, to combat chronic absenteeism, plus a more intensive look at nutrition plans in school lunches — during the address.
“What I can promise today is that I will continue to listen, intensely, to the concerns expressed by all stakeholders,” Morgan said.
But he also confronted an upcoming obstacle: Federal COVID-19 relief funding, which allowed the school system to pivot and adapt during the pandemic, will come to an end at the end of this school year.
“We have some tough choices and challenges ahead of us, as we look at our budget,” Morgan says. “I’m committed to protecting schools and classrooms where possible.”
Morgan introduced his CMSD executive staff, and also outlined a path to achievement for the school district, mainly by establishing the school district’s guiding values and goals. He discussed a few core measures (some of which were more defined than others) that he hopes for CMSD to achieve in the next five years:
1. College & Career Measures: Having 90% of scholars enrolled in college, employed or enlisted in the armed forces, and four- and five-year graduation rates at 90%.
2. Achievement Measures: In grades K-8, 65% of scholars achieving proficiency in English Language Arts and Math. In high school, 55% of scholars achieving proficiency in ELA and Math.
3. Culture & Climate Measures: Percentage of scholars reporting social emotional wellness, and the number of serious safety incidents reported in schools.
4. Equity Measures: Percentage of schools exceeding state growth expectations in math and ELA; achieving targets designed to eliminate gaps; proportionality of discipline rates by race and other groups; and the percentage of English language learners scholars achieving proficiency goals.
At the event, which featured questions from local students and community members, Morgan repeatedly referred to how listening will influence his style: “The power of listening and learning has, and will continue to, inform my leadership,” he said.
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