Richmond Heights schools capitalize on opportunities for more equitable education | Guest columns

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With every challenge comes an opportunity. Whether it’s a global pandemic or an unconstitutional school funding system, local schools in Richmond Heights remain committed to creating an equitable educational experience for all students.

Over the past two years, we have continued to work towards this mission and that of preparing our learners to navigate our ever-changing world.

Extended Programming, Extended Community

Despite the upheaval caused by COVID-19, Richmond Heights has moved forward with its plans for a new school that focuses on expanding hands-on learning opportunities and creating more collaborative spaces for students, and serving as a community hub for residents and businesses.

The 2022-23 school year marks the second full year that our students will learn at our upper school, which houses grades 7-12. The new school has given schools in Richmond Heights the opportunity to introduce 21st century equipment and state-of-the-art programs, such as the flight simulators and drones we’ve added to our aviation classroom, our expanded Makerspace , where students put concepts they learn in the classroom into practice by designing and producing products, and our Early College Early Career program through our partnership with MAGNET .

The new learning center also houses the Richmond Heights branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library as well as a multipurpose auditorium available for community events and a gymnasium equipped to host basketball tournaments. Showcasing our state-of-the-art facilities and serving as a resource only serves to make our community stronger.

Leading the fight for fair school funding

Richmond Heights Schools is a lead plaintiff in a case declaring Ohio’s school voucher program unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year and we are joined by nearly 100 other school districts across the state. The lawsuit claims, among other things, that the vouchers are primarily used by non-minority students, even though the program was intended to help economically disadvantaged minority students. Richmond Heights is joined by Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools as the lead applicant, as well as Columbus and Lima City Schools.

Similarly, the state’s new school funding model, the Fair School Funding Plan, is concerning. Public schools are funded by the state and local taxpayers. The new plan takes into consideration a district’s wealth-to-tax ratio and the ability of community members to pay. Based on current projections and the fact that the plan is being phased in over six years, our district will be more dependent on local dollars in 2022 and 2023 than in previous years.

Because of this and recent economic development that is not bringing new funds to our schools, our district is considering replacing our property tax with an income tax. Early data shows this could be a fairer way to tax our residents while still providing the best education possible. Watch for news soon to learn more and share your thoughts.

Small, but mighty

Congratulations to the Richmond Heights State Champions in Men’s Basketball.


Renee Willis is the superintendent of local schools in Richmond Heights.

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