Board of Education, March 2019

April 1st, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

March 13, 2019

Present: Jeffrey Isaacs (president), Ayesha Bell-Hardaway, William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Meg Weingart

Others: Acting Superintendent Stephen Wilkins, Treasurer Bryan Christman

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. by Mr. Isaacs. Minutes of the March 7, 2019, were approved.

Onaway students Yulian Brown, Valentina Casanova-Owens, Summer Hollins, Luke Murray and Ruby Wang opened the meeting with song. Onaway Principal Eric Forman followed with brief remarks.

Public communication to the board is limited to three minutes. Typically the board does not respond or address a particular concern unless, upon occasion, an individual is directed to an information source. Three residents spoke. The first was Kathleen Sauline, who had applied for the superintendent position and had addressed the board in the past about her candidacy. She stated that her application was “tampered with” and then “put back together” by two senior members of the administration. Mr. Isaacs interjected by asking Ms. Sauline if her comments were appropriate in this setting. She continued, pointing out that she still had time left, resumed her comments and mentioned by name the two administrators. With 50 seconds left of her time, and immediately following the naming of those two individuals, her microphone was turned off. [Ms. Sauline has since pulled petitions to run this fall for a seat on the board.]

A parent commented on the excellence of the schools but is concerned about spending and the fiscal health of the district. Current and predicted lower enrollment trends as well as Shaker’s having the seventh highest spending rate for students in the state were mentioned. He urged the board to attend to these issues as part of the district’s five-year strategic plan, and to address these matters when selecting the new superintendent. Another parent said that the board packet prepared before meetings should include news articles published by the Shakerite. She said she had requested this of Dr. Hutchings and was hoping that Dr. Wilkins would reconsider the request. The Shakerite is an award-winning student newspaper. She feels inclusion of student articles would demonstrate that the district administration and board value student perspectives and journalism.

The Superintendent Search Update began with the announcement of the two finalists: Ms. Elizabeth Kirby and Dr. David Glasner. Ms. Kirby, a Cleveland native, is Chief of School Strategy and Planning for the Chicago Public Schools. Dr. Glasner is interim principal at Shaker Heights High School and Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the school district. The board voted unanimously to accept the two named candidates as finalists. Mr. Isaacs gave a brief description of each candidate’s resume and noted where there was more information on each finalist. Each will have a day-long visit to the district, and community members will be able to hear candidate presentations and to ask questions. [It has since been announced that Dr. Glasnerhas been offered the position of superintendent. Ms. Kirby was offered and has accepted the position of superintendent for the Cleveland Heights/University Heights School District.]

Dr. Erin Herbruck, Project Manager and current Director of Professional Development, briefly updated the board on the High School Principal Search. As of March 7, 60 completed applications have been received. The search will be conducted in a similar manner to the superintendent search. A consulting firm has been hired; there will be opportunities for public input by stakeholders through focus groups and an online survey for residents. Thus far, there are 160 surveys completed. A new principal will be announced in May.

Dr. Glasner with SHHS Assistant Principal Sara Chengelis reported on the High School Accreditation processconducted by an external review team from AdvancED Global Commission. The team visited SHHS for two days. Parents, students, staff and community members were interviewed and participated in surveys regarding the domains of “Leadership, Resource Capacity and Learning Capacity.” By the end of March, accreditation will be finalized and will remain in place for five years. Findings from the commission report follows: 23 out of 30 standards assessed as “Effective Practices”; five standards assessed as “Opportunities for Improvement”; tow assessed as “Priorities for Improvement.” Those two priorities are stated as:

1. “Learners have equitable opportunities to develop skills and achieve the content and learning priorities established by the institution.” Ms. Chengelis commented that the school has been aware of this and is continuing to address the concern that learners have equitable opportunities.

2. “The institution integrates digital resources into teaching, learning and operations to improve professional practice, student performance and organizational effectiveness.”

Pride of stakeholders, community spirit and a “can do attitude” were commented upon in the report. Ms. Chengelis noted that seeking accreditation, which is taken on voluntarily, is a reflective process centered on teaching and learning. Furthermore, the accreditation process sets up the school for a future IB evaluation process. The board commended Ms. Chengelis and commented on the hard work of all concerned and their willingness to tackle tough questions. All those involved were thanked.

The Fernway Update focused on the positive outcomes of negotiations between Gilbane (overseeing contractors for the rebuilding project) and the insurance company underwriting the reconstruction/repairs. In April bids for work will come in and hard numbers can be accurately assessed. Left to resolve with the insurance carrier are extra expenses involving busing and replacement costs on building contents. According to Mr. Boyer, Director of Operations, there will be options to mitigate any overages, and a number of areas where the district can save money. A conservative estimate would be 3 percent savings for the total cost of capital improvements and the Fernway project.

Unanimous approval by the board of all Personnel Items included: the authorization of an Ohio Dept. of Education Spanish Visiting Teacher Program, appointments, temporary employees, special assignments, and leaves of absences. Dr. Wilkins introduced and gave a warm welcome to the new head football coach, who enthusiastically made a few brief comments.

In the first of three required readings, the board approved proposed policies of the Board Policy Review Committee on the following: authorized signatures, tobacco use on district property by staff and students, and notification about sex offenders.

The board thanked Carmella Williams, who has served as Library Trustee for seven years. Dr. Timeka Rashid, currently the PTO co-president and Associate Dean of Students at Kent State, has been selected to take Ms. Williams place as the newest member of the Shaker Heights Library Board. Vacancies are advertised by the Board of Education so all residents have an opportunity to apply. Nineteen applications were received for this non-paid position. Ms. Weingart commented on the impressive pool of candidates.

The monthly Financial Report prepared by Mr. Christman was approved, and Mr. Christman was complimented on an excellent audit report. By unanimous vote, the board adopted the Tax Rate Resolution for the ensuing tax year. A summary of amounts required from the general property tax approved by the Budget Commission of Cuyahoga County and of the county fiscal officer’s estimated tax rates was presented. More information on the treasurer’s report can be found online on the posted agenda.

Recognition and Honors

The boys basketball team advanced to the OHSAA District Final. Dr. Wilkins congratulated thewhole team and Coach Danny Young.

Toriano Houston, Najee Lockett and Eli Meinhard competed in the District Wrestling Championships. Junior Najee Lockett is Shaker’s first District Wrestling Champion since 2008 and will compete in the State Wrestling Championships.

The high school orchestras competed in the OMEA State Orchestra Adjudicated Event. The String Orchestra competed in Class A, receiving a II rating (Excellent). The Chamber Orchestra competed in Class AA and received a I rating (Superior).

Congratulations were extended to Principal Miata Hunter and her staff for the work done on the Eighth Grade Community Project. This is a new collaborative service project for all eighth-grade students. Students presented their respective Community Projects to parents and the community at an event in February. The project allows the students to pursue a topic of interest in Middle School.

Seniors Lyle Yost and Chachi Gustafson competed at the OHSAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships. Lyle won the state diving championship, and became the first boy’s diving champion to win back-to-back titles since 1961. Chachi finished second in the 100-yard butterfly. Both are headed to Ohio State next fall to compete on the Ohio State Men’s Swimming and Diving team.

Ellie White, a fourth-grader at Fernway, was an exhibitor for the 39th Annual Youth Art Month Exhibition sponsored by the Ohio Art Education Association. The artwork was on display in Columbus for five weeks. She and teacher Wendy McGuffin-Cawley attended a recognition ceremony.

A Saint Baldrick’s event was hosted by the Class of 2021 at the high school. The Saint Baldrick’s Foundation is a donor-powered charity committed to supporting research to find cures for childhood cancers.

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

Agendas, meeting packets, and meeting minutes will be posted on the district’s website, shaker.org. The next regular meeting of the Board of Education will take place on Tuesday, April 9, at 6 p.m. at the high school small auditorium.

Anne Batzell

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