Weinland Park, a Community in Transformation


By: Melissa Santiago

 

The elementary school is situated in the middle of Weinland Park, literally a park with basketball courts, open grassy area, and a playground attached to the school. The surrounding neighborhood is also considered Weinland Park and is a tight knit communit

In March 2004, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce set aside part of a federal grant to improve living conditions in Weinland Park. Columbus Public Schools and The Ohio State University partnered to transform the area by decreasing the high crime rates and turnover rates in schools and housing. The neighborhood, which is just outside Ohio State’s campus is an impoverished area with 50% of residents living below the poverty line in 2000 and less than 10% home ownership according to the 2000 US Census. In 2002, the average household income reported as $15,0252 (Jeff Bell, Business First 2005). Another part of the initiative, which is still currently underway, is the transformation of housing, which includes renovating old houses while still making them affordable for current residents. One of the concerns surrounding changes was whether or not residents would be forced out as a result of not being able to keep up economically. As developments continue, the concern still exists, but thus far, significant progress has been made. Habitat for Humanity has even lent a hand, creating a new home design to maintain the historic architecture and quality of Weinland Park homes but still remaining cost effective in construction, maintenance, and utilities. Weinland Park Elementary School was rebuilt as part of the initiative and is now adjoined with OSU’s early childhood development center, as a conveniently located resource for the community.

Weinland Park Elementary School has many resources as a result of the changes. Every classroom has the latest technology, educational games, and new desks. The library is stocked with books and the school provides enrichment classes ranging from music to art, which many schools across the country have had to cut in their entirety. Despite all of the available resources, the school is still in academic emergency and overall, students perform relatively low.  Clearly educating a child requires more than a shiny building or new computers.  It takes more than a wonderfully dedicated staff or a supportive home environment. Often, one of those things by itself is not enough and it takes a combination. I highly doubt Weinland Park Elementary will be in academic emergency for much longer. The enthusiasm to improve its students’ education is too strong to ignore as one walks down the halls and listens to the students and staff.  As I personally walk through the halls I feel proud to be part of the progression in the students’ education and I anxiously wait for the significant improvements that we’ll make as a team and a community.

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