Board of Education, October 2018

October 24th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights Board of Education
Oct. 9, 2018

The meeting was held in the Shaker Heights High School cafeteria due to the large number of public attendance. The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:08 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Hardaway, and Heather Weingart; Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Wilkins; and Treasurer Bryan Christman
Absent: Board member William Clawson

Rachel Jackson, an 8th-grader at Shaker Heights Middle School, and Miata Hunter, Shaker Heights Middle School Principal, gave a welcome presentation, which included the news that the Rainbow Run attracted more than 550 participants and raised $35,000.

The board approved the minutes of the Sept. 11, 2018, meeting.

Dr. Wilkins then recognized staff and student honors:

  • Shaker Heights High School has the highest percentage of registered eligible voters among Cuyahoga County’s public high schools: 71.5 percent of students who were eligible to vote in 2017 were registered.
  • Shaker hosted the first ever IB regional conference Oct. 6-7 and Dr. John Moore, the district IB coordinator, was recognized.
  • Twelve Shaker High seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists.
  • Freshman Robert Kimmel was named MVP of the GCC Boys Golf Tournament. Robert shot a 76 at the final on Sept. 25.
  • Seven high school students have earned induction into the International Thespian Society.
  • Shaker Heights High School and RG Goslar, a school in Germany, celebrated the 40th anniversary of their exchange program. Shaker’s exchange with Goslar is the longest-standing exchange in the world between a U.S. school and a German school.

Mr. Isaacs next invited the public to share comments. He advised the audience that the usual 30-minute limit for comment would be waived for this meeting, reminding everyone the Fernway report would be lengthy and asking that speakers respect a three-minute limit. All speakers did limit their comments and all were able to speak.

  • Five speakers, including Lomond faculty, staff and parents, spoke in support of a Lomond staff member being considered for termination.
  • Seven speakers spoke in praise of the Equity Task Force first cohort results and recommended the board form a second cohort to continue the progress. Dr. Marla Robinson, the district’s chief of staff, said that the Equity Task Force would continue.
  • Two parents (of two different students) accused members of the high school athletic staff of “shaming” their children and asked the Board to investigate.
  • Sixteen speakers from Fernway and adjacent neighborhoods voiced their praise of the administration and board for their rapid response to the Fernway fire. There were many impassioned pleas for various changes. A formal petition with four specific requests and 339 signatures was presented and will be considered in the board’s decision. The requests were:
    1. Adequate playground and green space for kids to play
    2. Additional square footage to the classrooms and the gymnasium
    3. Dedicated cafeteria, music and art room
    4. Reconfiguration of the space to increase functionality for kids and teachers, including limited options to create high-quality spaces for student services such as occupational therapy and intervention specialists
  • Mr. Isaacs suggested and the board agreed to dispense with the regular facilities construction update in order to allow additional time for a complete Fernway project review. The existing and proposed floor plans for Fernway can be found here: Fernway Proposal: Updated.
  • The $14.6 million insurance reimbursement will cover the cost of renovating the building per the existing floor plan; the renovation would require nine months to complete; thus a decision by Nov. 1, 2018, is necessary in order to open in time for the 2019-20 school year.
  • The board has identified $2 million in the 2019 budget that could be applied toward meeting the four goals of the Fernway petition: $1.3 million had been budgeted in 2019 for Fernway upgrades, and $700,000 for other expenses. The money could pay for the desired changes in the 2019 proposed floor plan—except for the building addition (music room, kindergarten room, expanded gym space). A second floor would be built in the existing open space above the music/art room, allowing for expanded classrooms, a new first-floor cafeteria, and new occupational therapy and intervention rooms. The cafeteria would likely share music room functions. A total of $780,000 worth of site improvements, like added parking and playground expansion, are included in this plan. The construction would require 10 months minimum, so the building would not be ready before the 2019-20 school year. The building could open in the spring of 2020.
  • The proposed plan, including the addition and site improvements, would require $3.18 million. This would make the Fernway building equitable to other Shaker school buildings and meet the four goals of the Fernway petition. The building could open the summer of 2020.
  • The board discussed a possible staggered plan totaling $2.4 million in 2019 for the building addition and $780,999 in 2020 for site improvements. This staggered plan would require only a $400,000 addition to the 2019 budget. The building could open the summer of 2020.

The next item of business concerned district personnel items requiring approval. All personnel items were approved unanimously except for the recommendation to terminate one Lomond staff member, which vote had one board member abstain.

The following business items were approved unanimously: Resolution to waive career-technical training for students in grades 7 and 8 for the 2018-19 school year; resolution approving change order with Bailey Communications for high school and Boulevard School security upgrades project; resolution approving an execution of agreement with Van Auken Akins Architects for the Fernway restoration; resolution declaring an urgent necessity exists and authorizing the execution of a contract with Gilbane Building Co. for the Fernway restoration.

The following board items were approved unanimously: Approval of OAPSE Local #149 (clerical) and OAPSE Local #153 (paraprofessionals) collective bargaining agreements; the appointment of Anita Miller and Theresa Utrup as members of the Finance & Audit Committee.

The board held the second of three required readings of proposed and/or revised board policies, and discussed the Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire a search firm for the permanent superintendent whose term would begin July 1, 2019.

Treasurer’s report: Revenue activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date August 2018 has been similar to the same reporting period for the prior year, with the following exceptions:

  • Real estate tax revenue received in July and August this year was $3.2 million less than last year due to a timing difference in advance amounts paid out by the county. Advances were made earlier this year because taxpayers affected by the new tax law made accelerated payments before Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Other local revenue was $265,467, or 38.1 percent less than the prior year, due primarily to a $334,353 decrease in certain receipts from the state for the Fiscal Year 2018.
  • The district is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2019 as in Fiscal 2018 due to its being on the “guarantee” funding method.

The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date August 2018 was $0.3 million, or 1.5 percent less than the prior year amount due to timing differences in payments and expected growth in certain expenses (primarily salaries and fringe benefits), offset by a reduction in capital expenditures. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations.

The following financial actions were unanimously approved: Two supplemental appropriations totaling $22,500 from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation; a request for tax advances from the county treasurer (improves cash flow and investment income); adoption of the tax rate resolution for tax year 2019 (incorporates new Library millage rate); the Five-Year Financial Forecast required by law. The forecast, which assumes a 6.9 mill school levy increase in 2021, must be filed with the Ohio Department of Education.

Superintendent’s Report: The Calendar Committee has begun meeting to prepare and propose calendars for the 2019-2022 school years. Dr. Robinson will lead this effort. A Stakeholder Survey to gather feedback from the community has been posted with 400 responses in the first 10 hours. The committee expects to present recommendations to the board in January. The PTO Brown Bag Lunch group met Sept. 27, bringing together PTO leaders from each building to meet with the superintendent and staff to discuss issues of mutual interest. September issues included the State Report Card, restorative practices, and parking. The superintendent thanked Holly Coughlin, the Shaker Schools Foundation, and Alumni Relations for a fantastic weekend of Homecoming and Hall of Fame events Sept. 28-29.

The board adjourned the public session at 9:12 p.m.
Frank Goforth

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