CINCINNATI -- Schools in the Tri-State enjoyed some big successes in 2016, like passage of a groundbreaking levy to send more children to preschool, and they grappled with national issues like gun violence. And, yeah, Xavier University bought a Pizza ATM.
Here's our look at the top education stories of the year:
1. Cincinnati Preschool Promise
Cincinnati Public Schools and Cincinnati Preschool Promise teamed up on a $48 million a year school levy that passed with overwhelming public support. More than 62 percent of voters said yes, the biggest CPS levy margin since 1952.
That means that all 3- and 4-year-old children from families that make twice the federal poverty wage or less who live in the school district will get to attend private or public preschool tuition-free. Families that make more money will also get a break on tuition on a sliding scale that is being formed.
CPS's K-12 budget also benefited, with more money going toward improving neighborhood schools, buying more computers for students and plugging a deficit.
2. UC cycles through three presidents
Twitter star Santa Ono left UC to lead University of British Columbia in June. Interim President Beverly Davenport, who was provost and chief academic officer, was lured last month to lead University of Tennessee Knoxville.
The board of trustees acted quickly to stem the upheaval, naming University of Louisville's acting President Neville Pinto permanent president on Dec. 17. Pinto spent more than 25 years at UC, a big plus for an institution that was looking for stability and a Bearcat partisan.
3. Shooting at Madison Twp. school
The Tri-State held its breath as reports flooded in about shots fired at Madison Junior/Senior High School in Madison Township in February.
Four victims recovered with relatively minor injuries, and James Austin Hancock, 15, was sentenced to six years in juvenile detention.
The incident prompted Tri-State schools to reexamine their emergency procedures.
4. Clifton Cultural Arts center versus CPS:
Cincinnati's Clifton neighborhood is normally one of CPS's fiercest advocates, but the neighborhood and school district sparred publicly over the fate of the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, a former neighborhood elementary school building.
The district wanted to take back some or all of the building to expand Fairview-Clifton German Language School or to create a new neighborhood school. The arts center wants to stay in the space it spent millions of dollars to renovate.
After saber rattling last spring about revoking the arts center's long-term lease, CPS has been quiet in the final months of the year about its intentions. To be continued.
5. Kentucky slashes higher ed funding
While nearly every other state in the country continued to boost higher education spending to make up for cuts made during the Great Recession, Kentucky opted to reduce spending again by 4.5 percent in its two-year budget.
The cuts forced NKU to eliminate 105 jobs, raise undergraduate tuition 3 percent, and curtail expansion of popular majors and programs.
Gateway Community & Technical college cut 20 jobs through layoffs and attrition and also raised tuition.
6. Ohio changes diploma rules
Lawmakers sought to give students more ways to earn a high school diploma, eliminating the Ohio Graduation Test in favor of multiple paths, including certain scores on the ACT test or passing a series of end-of-course tests.
The changes may have been well-intentioned, but school leaders say they may lead to vast numbers of students failing to graduate on time.
7. Same-sex schools grapple with transgender issue
Public opinion and public policy regarding gender identity evolved rapidly in 2016, and Greater Cincinnati's same-sex Catholic high schools had to grapple with the best path forward.
8. College campuses attack hunger
A college education may be the path out of hunger for people struggling with poverty, but in the mean time, hundreds of students struggle to pay their bills while having money left over to eat properly.
This year, Cincinnati State and Gateway added food banks to their campuses to help their most needy students, joining Tri-State universities that already run food banks.
9. Pizza ATM!!!
Perhaps Cincinnati has given greater things to the country, like the Heimlich Maneuver and Dr. Albert Sabin's polio vaccine. But it didn't feel like it when WCPO broke the news that Xavier University would be introducing a Pizza ATM to the western hemisphere. The story spread across the globe like wildfire, and XU's marketing folks found themselves talking on global cable news networks and being interviewed by hundreds of other media.