Board of Education, June 2018

July 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education Observation, June 12, 2018

Public meeting commenced at 5:30 and adjourned at 9:30 pm

Board members in attendance:  William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha bell Hardaway, Jeffrey Issacs (Board President), Heather Weingart

Also: Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings Jr., Treasurer Bryan Christman



This observer did not arrive until 6 pm. Prior to arrival the agenda proceeded as follows:

Opening of the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance; Roll Call; Approval of May Minutes;

Public Communication to the Board; Recognition/Honors of Staff and Students.

  1. As this observer arrived, Ms. Lulling Li from the Equity Task Force was finalizing her report to the Board. Updates about the Equity Task Force can be accessed on the website.
  2. Dr. Hutchings passionately and candidly presented his ‘Years in Review” during his tenure as Superintendent. He is soon to leave the District to become the Superintendent of the Alexandria,VA schools.  He thanked his cabinet and all staff at the Shaker Schools, as well  as expressing specific appreciation for the opportunity given to him to serve as Superintendent. Dr. Hutchings called attention to former Board members, some of whom were in attendance, and who had been on the Board when given his position. He noted that he was fully aware of the opportunity given to him by selecting a young African American who hadn’t had extensive Superintendent experience, following a predecessor who had long held the position.

For much of an hour Dr. Hutchings presented accomplishments during his tenure at Shaker. His comments were prefaced by the comment that he was “hired by the Board to make changes”, stating his belief he leaves the District in a better place than when he arrived. Below are some specifics of his comments.

Strategic Plan 2014-2019:  13 months remain on the current plan.This 5 year current plan was expanded from the previous 2 year plan. It established specific goals and adopted metrics to align with those goals.  It extensively  details action steps addressing the challenges of the District and is used as a guide for all day to day operations. During it’s development many stakeholders in the community had opportunity for  input. Useful and important periodic strategic planning chats are held within the schools among staff to connect identified priorities to what goes on in the classroom.With the continued goal of transparency, the  2019-2024 strategic plan is in it’s planning stages.(See

Development of Innovative Programs:  1.The establishment of the  Innovative Center for Personalized Learning  (“IC”)  provides non-traditional learning experiences for students and staff;  2. FACE,  the Family and Community Engagement Center,  coordinates opportunities for engagement and volunteerism among parents and serves as a liaison between parents and school. 3. The creation of Shaker’s First Class, is a Pre-K program which can be seen as another way to tackle the achievement gap at the nursery school level. 4. Creation of a multi- grade level Summer Enrichment, Learning and Fun (SELF) program.  Previously the summer programs offered were for failing students or students with challenges to prevent summer loss. The SELF program provides a camp style environment with varied choices for all kinds of students. It’s also  an affordable, convenient way for high school students to attain credit recovery. In three years  program attendance has tripled.

Communications:  Dr. Hutchings noted emphasis resulting in much improvement in this area of focus. He feels it has been important  to find a way to “tell our story.”  He cautioned that  communication to the Superintendent should be respectful, and he encourages community members in their future dealings with the new Superintendent to find “proper channels to communicate”  including the courtesy of communicating an issue first with the Superintendent before going to the public. Improvements in district -wide communications include the creation of  “Measuring What Matters” yearly report sent to every household, the Superintendent’s newsletter, a comprehensive website, Board Memos posted on the website and the weekly board packet  posted on the website under BoardDocs. In addition everyone gets a Shaker  app for  i-phones.

Security: There is greater collaboration with SHPD and the SHFD. All entry doors are locked and visitors must be buzzed in by a security person There is enhanced and increased video surveillance. Safety summits are held and safety plans for all schools have been developed. Security officers have received updated training and they are expected to “roll the building.”

High Quality Learning Environment Building on a Legacy of Excellence:

District assessments are now a part of Strategic Metrics. Student achievement has risen and the District is in alignment with Ohio Standards. All schools Pre-K -12 teach the IB curriculum. Former barriers to upper level courses have been removed. Social promotion guidelines have been examined to avoid promotion without proper skills. Dr. Huchings cautioned that this sets up a student for future failure. The district is in compliance with the English Language Learners  and Special Education audits. A Gifted Education Program  complying  with the Ohio Dept. Education requirements is currently being developed.

Organizational Culture:  Dr Hutchings implemented higher standards in hiring practices including the use of a  leadership profile to determine who attains an interview. As an example, potential hires are asked to meet with a panel of interviewers and asked to teach a class as part of the interview process. Vetting protocols have been developed, but  there is a need for continued organizational changes.

Professional Learning: The Department of Professional Learning was established in 2014.

The following practices have been implemented —Executive coaching for Principals,  google training for staff, Instructional coaches, selected among faculty, to assist fellow teaching staff

  1. Dr. Breeden, updated the Board on the development of the Gifted Education program with opportunity for Board members to ask questions. At this point the gifted planning timeline is in Phase I . Dr. Brazer, Stanford professor and educator on leadership and equity has acted as a consultant in the early development of a plan suitable for Shaker students. The District is required by Ohio Department of Education to yearly assess students for identification purposes.  While using instruments in compliance with ODE identification, the remainder of the Shaker plan will be developed according to the aims and needs of the District.  A Workgroup, headed by Mr. Dykema, has been involved in working on drafts of a potential plan. Students will be assessed in the area of core academics, artistic ability and creativity. The Shaker plan states  “an array of identification tools to ensure equitable identification” will be used. Questions and comments  included : what were the implications for students and parents especially through the lens of equity; who, what and when assessments will be administered; differences between the gifted program and enrichment opportunities; possibilities for re-assessment; how advocating for your child will be handled.(See below # 9 for action items to be voted on by the Board.)
  2. Dr. Stephen Wilkins and district architect Dennis Paben reported on the ongoing capital plan and the summer construction projects including the Woodbury, Mercer, Onaway roofing projects, asbestos containment for boilers, work on the Middle School auditorium and outside painting, updating security cameras, phone systems and connecting cameras to monitors. Progress on the pilot classroom projects, looked specifically at lighting components, finishes, acoustics, flexible furniture and room arrangements. Feedback from teachers on the pilot classrooms were sought from teachers.
  3. The Board voted on approving the resolution to abolish/eliminate certain teaching positions. In April possible plans for declining enrollment was discussed by the Board. From 2014 through school 2018, enrollment has declined, losing on average about 100 students per year. Options addressing the issue looked at trend data, class size data and staffing data. The resolution specifies the elimination of 10.8 full time equivalent teachers. The effort has been to keep loss at a minimum by not employing replacements for employees who were retiring, resigning or whose limited contracts will not be renewed. This school year no current employees will be losing jobs.  The Board passed the resolution four votes to one, with Ms.Cremer being the dissenting vote. Prior to the vote there was discussion and clarification from Dr. Breeden. Concerns about class size were voiced by Ms. Cremer due to decreased staff. Assurances were made that class size will be minimally impacted at any grade level.
  4. A number of action items on the public agenda addressing various personnel matters  were approved by unanimous consent. Details can be viewed online through agenda items on BoardDocs.
  5. The Board unanimously accepted the bid for the pilot classroom improvement project from Sterling Professional Group, approved of Total Environmental Services of the High School and Mercer project abatement services and approval of AVI Foodsystems, Inc. to provide food services.
  6. The Board voted unanimously to approve the following action items and resolutions: authorization of the interim superintendent employment contract ( Dr. Stephen M.Wilkins) for the

term July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019; approval of the 3 year negotiated bargaining agreement between the Board of Education and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees  effective through June, 2021; approval of Summer hours-secretarial/clerical Memorandum of Understanding.

  1. The Board voted unanimously to approve the Ohio Dept. of Education (ODE) District Gifted

Identification Plan.

  1. Mr. Christman presented the Treasurer’s monthly report consisting of financial statements and interim investments. The Board voted approval on the following: adoption of the 2018-2019 Temporary Annual Appropriations; the adoption of the Shaker Heights Public Library tax budget;

the resolution authorizing agreements for software and support services with NEOnet Information Technology Center and an end-user agreement for eFinancePlus.

  1. Dr. Hutchings presented his last Superintendent’s report which was brief due to earlier comments. He again thanked a number of people especially his administrative team and the Board for their support. He introduced Mr. David Berger who will serve as Director of

Operations while Stephen Wilkins is interim Superintendent for the upcoming school year.

Commencement was a great success and the effort of SHHS Asst. Principal Sara Chengelis who co-ordinated the event was noted. He commended both William Clawsen, Board member, and Principal Kuehle on their excellent remarks.  At the ceremony Earline Hooper and Mary Lynne McGovern received recognition for pioneering integration of the district. The district raised $17,000 for the annual American Heart Association Campaign.

As the Board seeks a new Superintendent Dr. Hutchings last word of advice was to consider their candidates carefully with the top priority being what is good for all  students in the District.

  1. Ms. Coughlin, executive director of the Shaker Foundation, shared news of the Hutchings Family Fund, initiated by the Hutchings family which will serve as a legacy of Dr. Hutchings’ work and service to the Shaker Heights School District.


Anne Batzell
























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