Board of Education, December 2018

January 6th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
Dec. 11, 2018

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

Mr. Isaacs called the meeting to order at 6 p.m. and asked for a moment of silence in memory of Woodbury Teacher Aisha Fraser.

The Board approved the minutes of the November board meeting.

  • Public comments: one person expressed concern about board communications; Lisa Vahey spoke about the Equity Task Force; and William Scanlon of the Shaker Heights Teachers Association said the union is setting up a trust for Aisha Fraser’s daughters. Mr. Scanlon, a teacher at the high school, also said the high school community needs to heal after the problems it faced last fall. Boulevard Principal Neal Robinson and a Boulevard student talked about what has been happening at the school.
  • Dr. Wilkins reported on the following: Onaway/Fernway students are participating in Fostering Hope, a Cleveland nonprofit that enriches the lives of children in foster care.  Lomond students will host a STEM Expo called Mission Moon thanks to the support from the Shaker Schools Foundation and Rockwell Automation for the after-school program FIRST LEGO League Jr.  Four seniors have signed letters of intent for college athletics. The cast of “Pippin” has been invited by the Board of Directors of the Ohio Educational Theatre Association to perform at a state conference – a first for Shaker students. The Middle School Robotics Club (in its third year) qualified for the state competition; Onaway’s principal Lomond’s assistant principal traveled to China in early November with the Chinese Bridge Delegations for American Principals sponsored by the College Board and the Confucius Institute. In early December, Dr. Wilkins also traveled to China with high school teacher Raina Li, and 2018 graduate Ose Arheghan represented the district at the 13th Confucious Institute Conference.
  • Shaker Schools Foundation Executive Director Holly Coughlin addressed the board regarding the imminent kickoff of the Fernway Forward Capital Campaign to raise up to $500,000 for Fernway School. Funds raised are earmarked for “extras,” including outdoor community spaces and play areas; a media center and design spaces; occupational therapy rooms; art and music rooms; and cafeteria/community space.
  • Director of Operations Dave Boyer and and a representative of Van Auken Akins Architects provided an update on the district capital plan and summer construction programs. Their handout reviewed costs and a timeline for the numerous projects.
  • An Instructional Technology update by John Rizzo, Director of Technology and Media Services, and team member Casey Aliff reviewed the K-4 Chromebook rollout project. Previously, a traditional classroom had two or three hardwired computers on desks plus a teacher’s desktop, and classes would travel to a central computer lab with 25-30 computers.  Now, for grades K-3, there will be 12 Chromebooks per classroom, so a 2:1 ratio plus a swing cart of 15 more to allow for 1:1 in a classroom.  For grade 4, there will be 24 Chromebooks in each classroom. All elementary computer labs have been phased out except for one at Lomond, and 328 desktop computers district-wide have been phased out. Next year, consideration is being given to having MS/HS students take a Chromebook home – the district will first work on how to make sure students have safe access to the internet and adult supervision. Note that these Chromebooks have a five-year life and are built for educational environments.
  • School enrollment update: Chris Rateno, Director of Student Data, presented an update on local, state, and national student enrollment trends. Lower birth rates will yield fewer kindergarten students. Cuyahoga County is showing a larger decline than Ohio’s average due to economic factors and the fact that it is an aging area. Shaker is estimated to be down 63 students per year (K-12), which matches the national and state decline.
  • All personnel updates and changes were approved.
  • Terri Breeden, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, gave a brief update and a proposal on staffing: Presently there are four elementary teaching positions that were not filled for the 2018-2019 school year. In looking at the declining enrollment trends, these positions will be abolished.
  • The following business item was approved: additional work on the Mercer waterline replacement.
  • The board had the first of three readings on 28 new proposed changes to board policies. Several of the board members made comments on various proposals and most suggestions were added to the proposals.
  • The board approved the day before Christmas and New Year’s off for all employees.
  • Treasurer’s report: Financially, the end of November showed a $235,000 favorable variance.
  • The district is converting its fiscal systems from USAS to Sungard with a target ‘go-live’ date of July 1, 2019. A training and conversion schedule has been set up.
  • There was a 69 percent passing rate for Ohio school district levies on the November ballot.
  • Mr. Christman also reported on Ohio House Bill 343 , which limits complaints of tax adjustment filings against a residential property.
  • The East Cleveland school district is in academic distress and the State Department of Education will be having its first meeting regarding that soon.
  • The board renewed its Medical Mutual of Ohio Medical and Hospital Services agreement and self-insured rates effective Jan. 1, 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019, and the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Dental Service Agreement. It also approved the Express Scripts prescription drug self-insured rates.
  • Mr. Isaacs gave a brief update on the status of the superintendent search: 30 meetings/focus groups have been scheduled, and 571 people completed an online survey on preferred characteristics of potential candidates.

The Board adjourned the public session at 8:14 p.m.
Holly Wang

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