Board of Education, January 2019

January 24th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Jan. 9, 2019

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

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:02 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

  • Carina Freeman, Lomond Elementary School Principal, introduced students four students who each gave a welcome presentation.
  • Mr. Isaacs introduced 19 required annual organizational items for approval, all approved unanimously. Two items of particular note:
    • Nomination and election of the board president for 2019; Lisa Cremer nominated Jeff Isaacs, who accepted the nomination and was reelected.
    • Nomination and election of the board vice president for 2019; Ayesha Bell Hardaway nominated Heather Weingart, who accepted the nomination and was elected vice president.
  • The board approved the minutes of the Dec. 11, 2018, regular meeting and the Dec. 19, 2018, special meeting.
  • Mr. Isaacs next invited the public to share comments. He advised the audience that the usual 30-minute allotted for comments would be observed, reminding everyone to respect a 3-minute limit. All speakers did limit their comments and all were able to have their voice.
    • Sylvester Moore of Norwood Road requested that the board exercise a preference for Shaker Heights alumni or residents in their choice of interim principal of the high school.
    • William Scanlon of Shaker Boulevard (and a Shaker Heights Teachers Association officer) expressed his disappointment that the board had resorted to arbitration regarding high school English teacher Jody Podl.
  • Dr. Wilkins acknowledged staff and students for special recognition and honors:
    • Seventy-six student works received awards in the Scholastic Art Competition; the list of the winners and their work may be found at Shaker Art Student Awards.
    • Lomond School’s First Lego League Jr. teams took attendees of its first STEM Expo on a “Mission to the Moon” while showcasing their robotics and research projects.
    • Students in the Multiple Disabilities Program at the high school served a chili lunch to raise money for their spring visits to Fieldstone Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center.
    • Freshmen Katy Christian and Ben Schattinger won the Build Award at the Akron VEX Robotics Competition Dec. 15 at Firestone High School in Akron. View a video of the competition.
    • Fernway fourth graders attended two Naturalization Ceremonies at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Cleveland. The students helped welcome 130 new American citizens from more than 20 countries. PTO liaison Dorothy Moulthrop helped to organize it.
    • The Woodbury Fiddle Factory and Middle School Orchestra traveled to the Cleveland Clinic on Dec. 19 for an outreach performance in the Karos Grand Lobby.
    • IB Diploma candidate Abigail Beard was named as a secondary author in the Nov. 22, 2018, issue of the scientific journal Oncogene for her research that contributed to the article, “The lncRNA BORG facilitates the survival and chemo-resistance of triple-negative breast cancers.”
    • Freshman Ryan Shane competed for a spot on the U.S. Junior World Cup team at the U.S. Short Track Junior Championship in Wausau, Wis., Dec. 15-16.
    • Finally, congratulations to senior Lyle Yost for his strong finishes at the USA Diving Winter Trials in Atlanta Dec. 16-21.
  • David Boyer, Director of Operations, next presented an update on the Fernway School building restoration project, the district capital plan, and summer construction projects. The Fernway project is progressing, with interior demolition mostly done and refinements to plans ready for submission to get a final price estimate next month.
  • Mr. Christman introduced the district personnel items requiring approval. All personnel items were approved.
  • Dr. Wilkins said that the search for a new football coach was progressing. The original pool of 50 applicants had been narrowed to 15 prospects, including seven Shaker grads, who have completed their initial interviews. The second round of interviews would commence Jan. 14. 
  • Don Readance, high school athletic director, and Tim Richards, middle school athletic director, presented a recommendation for Shaker Schools to leave the Greater Cleveland Conference (GCC) and rejoin the Lake Erie League (LEL) beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. The recommendation was approved.

This presentation provoked many questions from all Board members. The questions regarded:

  • Parity of participation in all sports and gender among the LEL member schools, particularly for less popular sports such as lacrosse, golf, rowing, etc.
  • Students’ schedules and time commitment for practice and competitions
  • Quality of competition, particularly in regard to student’s ability to attract college scholarships
  • Ability of coaches to schedule competitions with non-LEL schools
  • Impact on the school bands

The following two business items were approved unanimously: a resolution approving the change order with Chagrin Valley Paving for the high school’s south parking lot and Onaway’s parking lot improvements, and a resolution approving the change order with TAP Construction for the Mercer waterline replacement. The change orders reduced expenses by $43,460.

The board held a second of three required readings of 28 proposed or revised board policies; a vote is required at the Feb. 12, 2019, meeting.

The board held a public review of the proposed school calendars for the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022 school years in accordance with Ohio law so as to address the required topics that include, but are not limited to, the total number of hours in a school year, length of school day, and beginning and ending dates of instruction. Dr. Marla Robinson explained the process the administration had implemented to survey stakeholders; approximately 600 people had responded to the survey and a common comment was a desire to hold high school exams prior to winter break. However, Ohio requirements would then necessitate an academic year starting date two weeks earlier. There were no public comments at the meeting. The proposed calendars will be brought to a vote at the Feb. 12.

The board approved Mr. Christman’s monthly financial report. He offered a summary:

The revenue activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date (to December 2018) has been similar to the same reporting period for the prior year with the following exceptions:

  1. Real estate tax revenue received in 2018 year-to-date was $2.8 million less than in 2017 due to timing in amounts paid out by the county in 2017 in advance of the Jan. 1, 2018, federal income tax law changes limiting state and local tax deductions.
  2. The first Shaker Plaza Tax Increment Financing payment of $386,036, including a catch-up payment for part of 2017, was received in September.
  3. Investment earnings were $237,251, or 53.8 percent ahead of 2017.
  4. Other local revenue was $1.9 million, or 71.7 percent less than 2017, due primarily to the non-recurring receipt in the 2017 fiscal year of a $1.7 million reimbursement for the middle school roof project from the bond issuance fund. Additionally, the district received $332,736 less in receipts from the state for Fiscal Year 2018 State Foundation payments as compared to the same time period in 2017.
  5. The district is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2019 as in Fiscal 2018 due to being on the “guarantee” funding method.

The expenditure activity for the fiscal year-to-date was $0.9 million, or 1.9 percent less than the 2017 amount, due to timing differences in payments, expected growth in certain expenses (primarily salaries and fringe benefits), offset by a reduction in capital outlay expenditures. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The board approved the financial statement.

The board approved Mr. Christman’s proposed 2019-2020 Tax Budget, which must be submitted to the County Budget Commission. He offered a summary: The Tax Budget contains three basic fiscal year 2019-2020 tax request figures (including homestead and rollback monies):

General Fund $79,422,000

Bond Retirement Fund $ 3,646,000

Permanent Improvement Fund $ 1,027,000

These amounts mirror the district’s five-year forecast.

The regular superintendent’s report was deferred until the board’s executive session due to the private personnel items requiring discussion.

The board adjourned the public session at 7:59 p.m.

Frank Goforth

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