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Cleveland ISD superintendent updates local Chamber on school district status

June 11, 2018 GMT

Cleveland ISD Superintendent Dr. Darrell Myers discussed the current state of the school district during the June 7 Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Myers began his discussion by addressing school safety in the wake of the Santa Fe shooting.

“This tragedy has certainly come to the forefront of our area,” he said.

Staff members of Cleveland ISD have discussed how to handle security at the different campuses with Myers admitting there is only so much you can do to protect students.

“It’s a societal problem,” he said. “Politicians won’t tell you that because it’s not popular to hear that.”

Cleveland ISD is looking into addressing the societal aspect by hiring a licensed professional counter for students on both the middle school and high school campuses.

Myers talked about the demographics of Cleveland ISD, which now stands at 5,700 students. This is a 12 percent growth from last school year’s total student population. In four years, Cleveland ISD has gained an estimated 2,000 students.

“That’s a lot of kids,” said Myers.

The populations include a growth in economically disadvantaged students, which makes up 86 percent of the student population.

Academically, the entire school district is ranked as having met standard.

“We’re really pleased with that,” said Myers. “That does say a lot about our faculty and staff and how hard they work.”

Myers discussed a major problem in the four-year dropout percentage.

“Our dropout percentage continues to go up as our student population increases,” he said. “Right now we’re at 13 percent.”

Like other district, Cleveland ISD is also dealing with a lot of overaged students. Myers says the school district is addressing the issue by looking into credit acceleration courses for middle school students and using summer school.

According to Myers, every student eligible for the SAT and ACT took the tests.

“Our average score is at 1,107 on the SAT, which is about 250 points lower than the state average,” said Myers, adding that the district’s philosophy of all eligible students taking the test impacts the average.

Myers says 45 percent of graduating students end up attending higher education, which he says the school district hopes to increase in the future.

The district’s budget sits at $50 million. Myers says the tax rate is $1.415 per $100 property valuation.

Myers moved onto discussions about faculty and staff, noting that Cleveland ISD competes with other school districts in Houston when it comes to providing salaries.

“Our HR department works real hard to try to keep up with salaries,” said Myers.

Cleveland ISD currently has 785 employees. However, teachers with five years or less of experience make up 55 percent of overall teachers. Most of the teachers don’t live in the community.

According to Myers, this is due to many teachers working at Cleveland ISD for a few years before moving on to a school district in Houston.

“We need folks that are going to stay in the community and be in the community and be a part of it,” he said.

Turnovers in Cleveland ISD are at 25 percent.

Myers moved onto the construction projects at Cleveland ISD, with the Cleveland Middle School and Eastside Elementary projects set to be finished by August.

“We’re going to have the capacity for 5,000 kids,” said Myers regarding the results of these projects once they are finished.

Cleveland High School is one of three projects that is expanding due to the 2017 bond election.

“When they finish we’re going to have the capacity for 6,500 kids,” said Myers.

The biggest bond election for Cleveland ISD comes in at $85 million, which Myers says is still not enough to meet the needs of the growing population.

Myers ended his presentation with questions from the audience and assured everyone that Cleveland ISD is working with both its students and its local taxpayers as the staff tries to work with the resources it has to accomplish its needs.

jmcadams@hcnonline.com