UPDATE: 10:00 AM
At Wednesday's (January 14, 2015) Canton City Schools' Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Adrian Allison (superintendent for little over a year) (LINK to prior SCPR blog featuring Allison in video) unveiled a plan to merge Canton McKinley High School (adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame) with Timken High School which is located in downtown Canton close to he intersection of Tuscarawas St W and McKinley Avenue.
The SCPR received a communication from Canton City Council Vice President Frank Morris, III which voices his individual concerns (i.e. not speaking for council as a whole) about the announced plan to merge which The Report publishes in this blog (see below) in its entirety (restructured for clarity sake).
The theme of the email as the SCPR interprets it is that the Canton City Schools and Superintendent Allison are "out-of-touch" with the greater Canton school community and therefore have created more "turmoil" for an already struggling city.
Although Morris disclaims speaking for council as a whole or other councilpersons, the SCPR does not totally buy that line.
Morris certainly has the strength of personality and character to be "a lone wolf, the SCPR thinks that he does express the sentiments of councilpersons other than himself.
It appears that Allison and the BOE have stumbled and bumbled their way into a communication/relationship problem and consequently there may have to be a major rework of Phase III the CCS "Brighter Tomorrow" concept. (LINK to Phase I, LINK to Phase II)
The Allison invitation:
The Morris email response:
I respectfully decline your offer to attend the meeting to discuss your Brighter Tomorrow Phase III plan.
Canton City Schools called for a special meeting to unveil this plan before having conversations with community leaders.
If our opinions or concerns were truly relevant to your plans you would have consulted us prior to scheduling the special meeting.
I do not disagree with the concept that Canton may very well only need one high school however your disregard for the turmoil this will create in the community is unacceptable.
Canton City School Board and yourself have laid out a plan for the future and neglected to include the residents, and taxpayers of the district.
I have believed for years that our school district has lost all concern for our neighborhoods in the city.
Now the school district is going one step further by:
- stripping the identity from the elementary schools and junior high schools.
- One mascot, same school colors,
- the loss of neighborhood schools,
- vacant schools, and
- children being bused out of their neighborhoods
The merge[r] of the high schools maybe the only alternative based on our population and limited resources.
My issue with this is the lack of communication between the district and the community.
This is going to be a heated debate between Timken supporters and McKinley supporters which is going to divide our city.
You took it upon yourself to exclude many elected officials, community leaders and the general public in coming up with this plan.
If you would have made an attempt to gain public support prior to unveiling this plan my attitude would be different.
I am not speaking for my colleagues on Canton City Council on this issue as I am sure we will all view this differently. I am expressing my concerns as taxpayer, parent and ward councilm[a]n.
You didn't ask for my input before you went public so don't ask for it now.
Ward 9 Councilmen
Morris (completing - this year - his second two year term) is:
- a Perry High School graduate
- a Democrat who represents Ward 9, and
- majority leader of council, and a member of the:
- Rules Committee (Chairman),
- Parks & Recreation Committee
- Community & Economic Development Committee
- Public Property Capital Improvement Committee
- Judiciary Committee
Phase III is, the SCPR thinks, a sort of a "in your face" (i.e. "Here is reality folks!") to Canton's political/government leadership and "a vote of no confidence" that they are going to be able to turn Canton around in the immediate near future.
This apparent reality is a tough "pill to swallow" in particular for members of Canton City Council in view of the struggle they are "up to the necks in" as they search for ways and means to stop the bleeding (e.g. $300,000 plus to the Canton Citywide Comprehensive Plan, $5 million to the Hall of Fame Village project, loan/TIF for the Onesto project, 12th Street corridor project, Mahoning Road corridor project et cetera) and ultimately restore Canton to a pathway of health and growth.
The SCPR thinks that Morris is correct in saying that Canton with the selling of Phase III of Brighter Tomorrow, there is going to be a new doses of turmoil in Canton political and government circles.
It does seem that the CCS BOE is on an island by itself and is not communicating with Canton's political leadership effectively.
Morris is right to make an issue of the failure of communication, coordination and inclusion.
The question is whether or not the superintendent and the BOE members have the skills to adjust and correct the glaring error they have stumbled and bumbled into.