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Cincinnati Public Schools Adds Lighthouse Charter School To Its Roster

Updated: Tuesday, 1:20 p.m.

A Madisonville charter school board will become a Cincinnati Public School in the 2020-2021 school year.

Lighthouse is a charter school in the Madisonville neighborhood that CPS funded for 17 years to help students struggling in a traditional classroom. The school is open to any student 12-22 years old who has behavioral and academic difficulties at traditional Ohio schools.

CPS helped fund the school until the Ohio Board of Education revoked its ability to sponsor in 2018 after the district received a "poor" rating.

Lighthouse Youth and Family Services opened the school in partnership with CPS to provide intervention, specialized education and low student-to-teacher ratio.

The charter school's current student/teacher ratio is three staff members to every 11 students, according to Paul Haffner, president and CEO of Lighthouse Youth and Family Services. 

The Lighthouse Community School Board approved the letter of intent unanimously at a meeting Monday night.

CPS' Chief Communications Officer Lauren Worley says CPS currently doesn't anticipate changes to the school's programming or staffing. "It is a really special program there focused on students that have unique challenges," she says. "So one of the reasons that Cincinnati Public Schools wanted to work more closely with Lighthouse is to really keep the nature of that school community in place."

CPS says current Lighthouse staff and teachers would have priority in hiring considerations.

Worley says in the future, Lighthouse Community School's program could be duplicated in neighborhoods around the city as enrollment increases.

Haffner says both parties have been thinking about an agreement since CPS lost its sponsorship. "This time last year Carpe Diem, which is the other school that CPS sponsored, decided to immediately close their doors after CPS lost the right to sponsor them. We stayed open for another year. We found a way to kind of make it work."

Lighthouse Youth and Family Services has been running the school with money from fundraising and the Ohio Department of Education. Haffner says the current funding model isn't sustainable long-term.  

Worley says the acquisition of the school would align with CPS' vision for growth and enrollment. "Not just growing for size - growing in depth and expanded opportunities for kids," she says. "It also demonstrates our growth in terms of size and quality that parents and students are choosing CPS." 

Fifty-five students who attended the school during the 2018-2019 school year live in the CPS district.

According to the proposed agreement, Lighthouse properties that serve the Madisonville community would not become CPS property. 

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