A screenshot of New CMSD CEO Warren Morgan and new Board Chair Sara Elaqad at the Aug. 22, 2023, board meeting.
New CMSD CEO Warren Morgan and new Board Chair Sara Elaqad at the Aug. 22, 2023, board meeting. Credit: Cleveland Metropolitan School District YouTube

Covered by Documenter Gennifer Harding-Gosnell (live-tweet thread)

Changes to public comment at CMSD

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) is changing its sign-up process for making public comments at board meetings. People wishing to speak will have to register online before the meeting. People will no longer have the option to attend meetings and sign up there. Sara Elaqad, the board’s new chair, announced the change. She said people can register online or in person at meetings until Oct. 24. Beginning then, registration will be only online. People can find the form at clevelandmetroschools.org/board, Elaqad said.

More communication

Cleveland resident Elizabeth Coles criticized the board for not discussing this change with the public. The board should have put the policy change on the agenda, allowed public comment on it, and taken a vote on the changes, Coles said. Overall, Coles said the public needs “more, not less” communication from the board.

Tree trauma

Seven community members used this public comment session to speak about plans for the new Marion Seltzer school in the Cudell neighborhood. Nikki Hudson, a Cudell resident, said the plans would eliminate 44% of Cudell Park as well as 40 trees. One speaker said cutting down the trees would be “a traumatizing act of violence.”

Tree count

Elaqad asked Patti Choby, founder of project partner Cobalt Group, to give an update on the plans. Choby said she wanted to correct some of the numbers shared during public comment, saying that: 

  • The plans call for removing 34 of 65 trees identified in the construction area
  • The other 31 would remain
  • Five of the trees set to be removed are diseased and four are a nuisance

A petition circulated by a group called Save Cudell Park is asking the district to change the current plan and preserve more trees and park space. 

Read more from Documenter Gennifer Harding-Gosnell:

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Assignment Editor (he/him)
Doug, a Cleveland Documenter since 2020, has been a copy editor and reporter. His work includes: The Pace of Passage about how quickly Cleveland City Council passes legislation; a look at the challenges of the city’s Exterior Home Paint program; and University Circle Police Department’s complaint-review process. Doug has also written explainers and guides and launched #CLEDocsAnswers, which answers questions Documenters have about local government.

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