A Clintonville organization has a new name but the same goal, that of encouraging parents in the neighborhood to send their children to public schools.

A Clintonville organization has a new name but the same goal, that of encouraging parents in the neighborhood to send their children to public schools.

Founded in the early fall of 2011 as Clintonville Parents for Public Schools, what's becoming a more and more formal organization with committees and plans for a website was intended to provide public relations and marketing efforts to counteract the negative view many people have of Columbus City Schools.

The name of the group formed by local parents who feel strongly that the elementary schools, middle school and high school serving the neighborhood provide excellent educational opportunities, is now Clintonville Go Public.

"It's cuter," chairwoman Laura Kraus said.

It's also not going to get the all-volunteer group into any legal hot water.

As it turns out, there is a national organization called Parents for Public Schools, and Kraus got a call from them after the existence of Clintonville Parents for Public Schools became known.

"They were lovely and gracious but we can't use their name, even with the word 'Clintonville' in front of it" Kraus said. "They're totally supportive and actually they would like us to join up."

Clintonville Go Public has no funds to pay Parents for Public Schools dues, but Kraus said the local group's members are working to achieve nonprofit status to be able to raise funds, seek grants and distribute money.

"We have just finished a strategic planning process, and we have started to organize into committees," Kraus said.

"We've taken the last several months and kind of sorted things out and ironed out where we want to go from here," member Gus Dahlberg said. "I think we're more mature as an organization."

In addition to forming events, marketing and communications, and after-school exploratory and research committees, Clintonville Go Public members have adopted mission and vision statements.

"We are Clintonville families and educators dedicated to the value of neighborhood public schools, working to support and enhance a strong pathway from kindergarten to college," the mission statement says.

The vision statement reads, "We envision a world in which communities support and embrace their neighborhood public schools and both flourish as a result."

Clintonville Go Public will sponsor an open house for parents interested in more information about the local schools from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the home of Sandra and Luke MacPherson-Wilson, 239 E. Torrence Road.

One such gathering a while back helped change the mind of attorney Lindsay Sestile and her husband, Chad, about the educational future of their daughter, Lucy, who will enter kindergarten in the fall. The Sestiles, who moved to Pickerington from Toledo in 2002 and settled in Clintonville three years later, had planned on a private-school education for their children.

"We had not heard anything good about the city schools," Lindsay Sestile said.

But last fall, when a friend whose son was going to enter kindergarten attended a Clintonville Go Public open house, Sestile went along, "just exhausting our options," she said.

"I was so very impressed by the people we met there," Sestile added.

They were parents excited about what was going on in the public schools and willing to spend a lot of time an effort to "make it known that we've got some good schools in our neighborhood," Lindsay Sestile said.

"We really all have drunk the Kool-Aid," Dahlberg said. "We really all believe in the system."

Chad and Lindsay Sestile also met with and were impressed by Clinton Elementary School principal Katherine R. Leffler at the open house. She spent an hour talking to the prospective parents, and would have taken more time if the couple hadn't had to leave, Lindsay Sestile said.

Lucy will attend Clinton Elementary.

"It's been very interesting to me," Sestile said. "I'm an attorney; when I think I'm right, I don't normally change my mind.

"I can't say enough about them. They're doing a great job. If they're not in marketing, they should be."

"I think we've also raised awareness across the public school community that there's strength in numbers and uniting behind things can have some power," Kraus said. "It's not just for new folks entering the pathway, which is great, but also people who have been fighting the good fight for 12 years."

Right after the organization's formation got some publicity, Kraus said she got a letter from a woman whose children had been through the Clintonville public schools. They all were in college or embarked upon careers, and all had good experiences in the city system, so the woman wanted Kraus and her cohorts to keep up the effort.

"That was really nice," Kraus said.