WARREN Community members express hopes for high school project

The planning is part of an effort to personalize large inner-city schools.
WARREN -- Safe schools with state-of-the-art technology that meets the needs of the business community are what focus groups want in their public schools.
The process is about halfway done to determine whether to convert Warren G. Harding High School into four smaller high schools.
Seven focus groups -- about 100 people consisting of parents and business, industry, labor and community leaders -- met Friday and listed what they want public schools to be.
The district received a $185,000 grant in October to improve achievement and graduation rates at the school.
The grant is funded mostly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ohio Department of Education and KnowledgeWorks, a foundation in Cincinnati that helps to finance education initiatives in Ohio.
Aim of project
The money is being used to design a plan to turn larger, more impersonal inner-city high schools into smaller, more personalized ones.
Those school districts whose plans are deemed the best will receive additional funding to implement their proposals if the community supports them.
"Warren and Harding High School have become a standard-bearer around the state for the transformation project," said Ray Cantwell, a coach from KnowledgeWorks.
William Mullane, Harding principal, said the process works a bit differently from most attempts to sell an idea to a community.
"Here, you have an idea, and you hold our feet to the fire and make sure we do what you want," Mullane said.
The principal has spoken to the Rotary Club and city council and plans to talk to every booster group, asking them to participate in the process next month.
The input will be used to say "this is the expectation the community puts before us, and that's why we do it," Mullane said.
"We're not going to do it because the money is out there," he said. "We'll do it if it's right for the community."

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