Board of Education, March 2018

April 1st, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
March 13, 2018

Present: William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Jeffrey Isaacs, Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings; Treasurer Bryan Christman

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6 p.m. The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

The pledge of allegiance, led by Onaway students, was followed by a singing performance by two students from the musical production at the Onaway Little Theater. Onaway Principal Eric Forman also gave brief comments.

The minutes from the Feb. 13, 2018, regular board meeting were approved.

The Recognition/Honors of Staff/Students: Ninety-seven high school and 21 middle school students participated in the Regional History Day event, and 24 of these students will move on to compete at the April 21 State History Day championships; 39 were recognized for their achievements at the regional event. In its second year, the middle school Robotics Club had two teams that qualified for a state competition. Athletics: The high school’s boys’ basketball team advanced to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2015. Two high school wrestlers competed at States; two women track athletes excelled at the State Indoor Track Championships.

Public comment: one person urged the board to consider implementing weather delays rather than school closings. One student thanked the board for showing support of student activism related to the walkout against gun violence and urged additional support of activism in other arenas as well.

An update on the Equity Task Force followed, given by three members of the task force: district employees Eric Forman and Michael Summers and community member Adam Roth. (The task force was established in June 2017 and is part of the ongoing five-year strategic plan on removing barriers to help all students achieve at a higher level.) Dr. Hutchings stressed that the community needs to talk about race; both the issues of race and equity need to be part of the next five-year strategic plan. When asked if any of the board members were surprised at the findings, Mr. Clawson said, “We all can do better.” He also said they were surprised by the belief of some residents that when one child is being advocated for, it is at the expense of others.

Security Supervisor Vic Farrell gave a PowerPoint presentation that covered the mission of the security team and reported on how security is implemented over the K-6, Woodbury, MS and HS buildings. A top priority is for security personnel to develop relationships with the students they serve. The security department has 25 staff members, who undergo training on subjects like health, human trafficking, gang violence, and restorative justice. Shaker’s security staff members are not armed. Mr. Farrell has tested a new app on his phone that allows him to lock down the high school remotely.

Highlights of the facilities update by Dr. Stephen Wilkins, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations followed. Five projects were bid out, totaling $2.25 million at a cost savings of $200,000. And additional eight more bid packages (totaling $3.5 million) will have been bid out by the next school board meeting. A breakdown of the various projects, with estimated budgets, was shared along with the logic of combining bid packages to maximize savings.

The majority of the items for approval on the published agenda involved action on personnel matters, such as new appointments, changes in assignments, temporary employees, special assignments and resignations, all of which were approved and are listed in detail on the published agenda. Dr. Lois Cavucci, interim director of human resources, has been hired as the permanent director and was introduced at the meeting.

The board passed a resolution approving the procurement of boilers for the high school from the D.B. Johnsen Co. The board also approved a resolution authorizing a fourth amendment to the agreement for architectural services with Van Auken Akins in connection with the replacement of parking lots at Onaway and the south lot of the high school; it expands the scope of these projects to accommodate any lighting changes affected by the replacement. The board also approved a resolution authorizing a first amendment to the agreement with Legat Architects in connection with asbestos/hazardous abatement consulting at the high school.

The board voted to appoint Tom Cicarella to the Shaker Heights Library Board of Trustees for a seven-year term (April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2025). Mr. Cicarella currently is serving an unexpired term ending March 31, 2018.

Revision of board policies – second required reading of three: the following policies have been updated (covering Title 9 and nondiscrimination on the basis of sex/sexual harassment, broadcasting and taping of board meetings, student transportation services, board policy development and adoption, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, interscholastic athletics, graduation requirements, English learners, and truancy).

Treasurer Bryan Christman presented financial monthly and budget reports and highlighted what is happening as far as the state budget and Shaker funding (details of each financial report are included as exhibits to the published agenda available online). Tax advances for January and February are $4.3 million ahead of last year at this time, perhaps due to changes in the tax laws and people trying to pay the full year’s real estate taxes ahead. Mr. Christman anticipated that the district would maintain its excellent ratings with Moody and S&P. Collection from the new bond levy started Jan. 1, 2018. The department is still analyzing updating its software. The board voted to adopt the Tax Rate Resolution for the ensuing year.

Superintendent’s Report: Recently, the Shaker Schools took a delegation of district leaders to Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill., to learn about that district’s equity initiatives (12 years in the making). All Evanston students take Honors English and Honors Social Studies their freshman year and they earn honors credits by achieving a specific GPA. This trip validated Shaker’s work and reinforced that Shaker is on the right path to ensuring all of its students receive a high-quality education, the superintendent said.

Dr. Hutchings was looking forward to delivering his last State of the Schools address on March 15 to an audience of freshmen and sophomores. Planning is underway for an event in May featuring a one-on-one conversation between Dr. Hutchings and newsman Leon Bibb; Dr. Hutchings plans to reflect on his time in Shaker. Students will lead the protest honoring the Parkland victims on March 14, aligning them with national events that day, with full support of the board, superintendent and building principals at Woodbury, the MS and the HS. The Night for the Red & White was a successful event and it launched the Innovation Fund supporting STEAM (Art has been added to STEM) efforts in the district.

The board adjourned to executive session at about 8:04 p.m.
Holly Wang

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