Board of Education, November 2018

December 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
November 14, 2018

Present: William Clawson, LIsa Cremer, Jeffrey Isaacs, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Heather Weingardt
Also Present: Dr. Stephen Wilkins, Interim Superintendent; and Bryan Christman, Treasurer; Architectural Consultants from Van Aukin Akins

The meeting was heavily attended, filling the upper cafeteria at the high school to capacity. Board President Jeffrey Isaacs  opened the meeting by reading remarks addressing the concerns raised at the Nov. 8 community meeting regarding ongoing personnel issues at the high school. The board acknowledges the emotions and frustrations of those attending, and recognizes a need to be fair and sensitive to both students and teaching staff, he said. Mr. Isaacs detailed a number of board actions taken, including dismissals and taking student complaints seriously by investigating matters–while also expressing the value they place in the teachers. Mr. Isaacs further noted the board’s support for established district processes in dealing with privacy and personnel matters. On another matter, the board has engaged Ray & Associates to help with the search for a new superintendent. The board letter/remarks can be read on the website. The board is interested in hearing community feedback  and encourages communication through the site:

Woodbury Principal H. Danny Young formally opened the meeting with the help of 6th grader Anjum Reddy, who read a short essay on what she especially appreciates about being a student at Woodbury. He praised Fernway Principal Chris Hayward’s team for their positive presence at Woodbury.  New clubs are continuing to be formed and 47 percent of 5th and 6th graders are involved in a club or after- school activity.  A “Critical Frames” protocol is being utilized as part of Woodbury’s IB program.

The October minutes were read and approved.

Public Communication: An unusual amount of time was allotted for public communication to the board. General policy is that the maximum amount of time allotted is 30 minutes. Public comments addressing the board lasted 70 minutes, with 18 people addressing the board.  SHHS teacher Dr. Morris  represented the Shaker Heights Teachers Association in support of the English teacher who is currently on a leave of absence. Two educators expressed support for their colleague, and spoke to the dedication and excellence of teaching staff.  Others voiced support for  students who initiate complaints.  Comments included those made by community members, alumni, parents and former parents. On another important matter for the district, several Fernway parents, students (two second graders), and members of the Fernway neighborhood urged the board to approve a generous budget for an enhanced school building and spoke to the constraints of the old building.

Honors and Recognition: Dr. Wilkins commended the hockey program and their fundraising successes. The High School Art Club created a chalk wall for the Van Aken District. The MAC scholars continue to excel. Lia Gomez-Perez and Kevin LaMonica (our own 2018-19 Legacy Fellow!) were recognized by the College Board under the National Hispanic Recognition Program – only 5,000 students out of 250,00 qualify for this honor.

Equity Task Force Update: The task force has continued to meet without consultative support. A draft of the Shaker policy has been completed. In December there will the first reading of the policy following a review by the Policy Committee. Several board members thanked the task force for its hard work.

In a related matter, SGORR successfully organized a “Rapid Response” Forum at the High School with more than 150 students and community members in attendance.

Fernway Update: The Finance and Audit Committee looked at the budget options. There was clarification of what has been commonly referred to as the “preferred plan,” which is a $5 million option. This option would be a complete plan upgrade, including all outside site work, a complete cooling system, and a gymnasium addition–which many parents stated a desire for, given prior space constraints.  The insurance coverage for Fernway amounts to $14.6 million dollars. The board unanimously voted to approve the $3 million option while considering the potential of two phases of improvements. The district will look to the future for additional funds from various sources, including savings from possible bond expenditure funds, $1.3 million previously allocated to Fernway, future operational savings from capital funds, and possible fundraising opportunities.  The $3 million option allows for all interior educational spaces with significant improvements. It does not include any site work, which would cost an extra $750,000 to $1 million.  The architects will work to maximize all options. Principal Hayward will be consulted to prioritize needs. Interim Superintendent Wilkins is currently looking into other funding sources and possibilities. The contractors are suggesting that work could be completed in 14 months. Dr. Wilkins thanked the Fernway community “for their passion and advocacy.”

Facilities Construction Update: Continued work at the High School, Middle School, Woodbury, Boulevard, Lomond and Onaway include ADA, security and structural upgrades. At the high school,  water-main line improvements will address water pressure problems and the north parking lot will need repair.

This observer had to leave at 8 p.m. before the meeting adjourned.
Anne Batzell














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