Board of Education, February 2019

March 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Feb. 12, 2019

Present: Jeffrey Isaacs, president; Ayesha Bell- Hardaway, Lisa Cremer, Heather Weingart; Absent: William Clawson

Others present: Treasurer Bryan Christman, Interim Superintendent Dr. Stephen Wilkins

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m.

Mr. Florence, principal of Mercer School, along with fourth grade students Zoie Durham and Nathan Bordeaux, opened the meeting detailing the learning opportunities through the IB program at Mercer School. Mr. Florence spoke of on-going faculty and staff assessments. He referred to a vigorous look at strategies regarding enhancing individual learning styles and encouraging problem solving. Also detailed were after-school enrichment activities.

(Note: This observer report does not necessarily follow the order of the published agenda.) Fernway Update: Director of Operations Dave Boyer and representatives of Van Auken Akins Architects and Gilbane Building Co. presented progress made from mid-January to mid-February. Picture scans of the interior were shown with all hallway walls taken down. All asbestos has been removed. One can see a 360-degree walkthrough online at Shaker.org—Fernway School Update. Abatements and interior preparations began in December. March 1 is the completion date for this phase. The construction phase is expected to take approximately 14 months. The school is to be reopened in August 2020. In response to a board member question, some memorabilia has been saved from the old building, including a number of plaques. The design team from Van Aukin Akins has met frequently with teachers and other stakeholders. Facilities Construction Update for Bond Levy Projects: The overriding principle is to meet the standards of “safe, warm and dry.” Dave Boyer was joined by representatives of Gilbane and Van Auken Akins, who presented the summer construction timeline. Gilbane’s final cost model validating the budget, to be published in mid-March, is to be authorized by the noard. In June work at all schools will begin, and will stop on August 21. Projects will include roof work, security upgrades, fire alarm projects, foundation and masonry restoration, boiler and generator projects, and high school parking lot replacement. Some ADA improvements have been pushed back to 2020, as the needs are varied and have yet to be analyzed for each school building.

Comments from the Board: Dr. Wilkins expressed concern regarding security issues at the Middle School, considering it has spaces that are uniquely challenging. Board members complimented Gilbane, noting that Gilbane participates in “daily huddles” and weekly communications with contractors and work force. Formal meetings detailing work are recorded, assuring accountability.

Superintendent Search: Mr. Isaacs reiterated the intention of the board is to keep the search transparent and inclusive. He updated the superintendent search timeline. In mid-November the national search firm Ray & Associates began work with the board. In early December, two community meetings were held to involve the public to share thoughts on a leadership profile for the next superintendent. A survey was posted online at shaker.org. In mid-December, the superintendent position was posted. In mid-February, top candidates are to be presented to the Board. In early March, interviews with top candidates will be conducted and finalists will be introduced at public meetings. Each candidate will make day-long visits. Public forums will be recorded. Opportunities for feedback will be available from all stakeholders. Announcement of the new superintendent will be made by the end of March.

2019-2020 Academic Program Planning Guide: Dr. Breeden presented the program planning guide for approval. New is the addition of class choices for Woodbury students. The planning guide is organized by grade level, 5th-12th grades. Also, now it is a totally online format, which will bring significant cost savings over the traditional guide (revised every other year). It can be downloaded for printing purposes, and Dr. Breeden noted that the schools will print it out for individuals if needed.

Adoption and Revision of Board Policies—the following items of note were unanimously approved by the Board: Recommendations of the Equity Task Force previously submitted to the district were turned over to a district committee tasked to further define equity as it applies specifically to our student population and to define a policy for the district. The board unanimously approved an Equity Policy for the District.

Changes in Assignments: A transition agreement was executed by Jonathan Kuehnle, and the district reassigned Mr. Kuehnle from principal of the high school to project manager-administration effective in January 2019. Also effective in January 2019: substitute high school principal David Glasner was reassigned as interim principal. The search for a high school principal was initiated in January and as of early February, 25 applications had been received. Dr. Erin Herbruck, Director of Professional Learning for the district, will serve as project manager for the search. The firm Finding Leaders, Inc., based in Cuyahoga County, will help conduct the search.

Mr. Christman’s Financial Report: The monthly report consisted of financial statements and interim investments for the year-to-date ended Jan. 31, 2019. They were accepted and filed for audit. The library budget was also reviewed by the treasurer. A budget of $25 million appropriated for building improvements, including reconstruction and contents replacement of Fernway, was approved by the board.

Board Member Reports: Ms. Bell-Hardaway and Ms. Weingart are tasked with identifying a new Library Board member who will serve a seven-year term. At present there are 19 applications. Interviews will occur at the end of February into March.

Public Communication: A resident commented that more oversight was needed regarding the search for the district’s superintendent. He cited what he believed to be an unfair practice in regards to a potential candidate. Another resident was interested in the status of the new five-year strategic plan. Another read a letter in support of a candidate for superintendent. That candidate herself spoke of her qualifications for the position and asked for support of the community.

Recognitions: Seniors Shekinah Hooper and Miles Callahan were two of nine students selected to receive the CIA Recognition Award, which includes a $20,000 scholarship upon admission to the Cleveland Institute of Art. Additional awards were given to a number of Shaker students at the Scholastic Art Competition Ceremony. Added to a list of others, six more senior student-athletes have signed Letters of Intent with the following schools: Bates College, Denison University, Erie Community College, Marshall University, Swarthmore College, and Urbana College. Freshman Ben Rakow qualified to advance to the Cleveland competition of the National Shakespeare Competition. Seniors Harlan FriedmanRowell, Hallie Dial and Adonis Fryer, and Freshmen Nora Konrad and Somiya Schirokauer were congratulated for their participation in the in-school competition. Middle School Robotic Club teammates Sarah Marcus, Hannah Whitney and Nico Moulthrop finished in first place in the overall Robotics Challenge at the Kalahari VEX IQ Qualifying Competition. The team will go to the state competition in March. Anders Butsch’s and Jacob Hearty’s team earned a 10th place finalist ranking out of 184 teams. Shaker’s IB program was featured in a cover story of International School Magazine. Shaker students are featured on the cover; the article was written by Scott Stephens and Jen Kuhel. Dr. John Moore is quoted. John Rizzo, Director of Technology, worked on an Augmented Reality project with a small group of Middle School students to fabricate a “Reality Sandbox” using software from UC Davis. A computer was built by the students to accomplish this.

The public meeting was adjourned to go into executive session at 7:45 p.m.

Anne Batzell

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