FutureHeights informs, educates and advocates via Observer and other means
The construction of new and renovated public schools in Cleveland Heights and University Heights may represent the single largest investment in our communities over the next several decades. This is an important issue—one I’ve been following since summer 2010, when the school district asked me to join the Citizens Facilities Committee—and it is a good example of how FutureHeights uses various tools to encourage civic engagement. (Full disclosure: I am the parent of a CH-UH kindergartener who will be affected by this process.)
At FutureHeights, we seek to promote a vibrant and sustainable future for the Heights through civic engagement and innovative ideas. We do this by informing, educating and advocating. Here’s how FutureHeights has used these tools in respect to the school district’s master facilities planning process:
1) We provided information about the process by writing about it in the Heights Observer. As publisher of the Observer, FutureHeights refrains from writing editorials promoting one aspect of the plan over another. Instead, we provide space for community members to voice their concerns and advocate for issues that are important to them.
2) We held an educational public forum on March 1, a week after the district presented Plans A and B. Many of the concerns we were hearing from community members—via letters to the editor and opinion pieces in the Observer— led us to believe that such a forum would be helpful. We brought together a panel of experts to address some of the issues by providing facts and examples from other communities. We were pleased when the district subsequently responded to community concerns and developed a Plan C.
3) We advocated for increased dialogue between the members of the CH-UH Board of Education and the city councils of Cleveland Heights and University Heights, the elected representatives who we entrust with the responsibility of safeguarding our community values. We sent a letter on March 5 urging them to meet to discuss the master facilities plan and its impact on our communities, and we continued to advocate for a meeting both privately and publicly. I am pleased to report that a meeting will occur on May 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Cleveland Heights Community Center.
The school facilities process is far from over, and there are many other issues that affect our community. Keep your letters and articles coming. Submit them via the Member Center at www.heightsobserver.org or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to do all we can to provide opportunities for your voices to be heard.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.