Board of Education, June 11, 2019

July 11th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: William Clawson, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Jeffrey Issacs (president), Heather Weingart

Absent: Lisa Cremer

Also present: Bryan Christman, treasurer; Marla Robinson, chief of staff

Mr. Isaacs opened the meeting at 6 p.m.

Dr. Robinson stood in for former Interim Superintendent Stephen Wilkins, who has left the district to work for former superintendent Gregory Hutchings. In her opening remarks, she referred to this as a “time for transition” for the district. She praised the highly successful high school graduation ceremony. Kevin LaMonica, our 2018-19 Legacy Fellow, was one of two student speakers. Congratulations was given to Assistant Principal Sara Chengelis for her work coordinating the graduation ceremony. The district’s summer enrichment program, SELF, has 900 reservations as of June 11. SELF stands for Summer, Exploration, Learning and Fun and includes all grades levels.

Honors and Recognitons:

• Four Shaker Heights High School seniors were named National Merit $2,500 Scholarship recipients. They are: Emet Celeste-Cohen, Fenner H. Dreyfuss-Wells, Isabel A. Levin, and Leo Schirokauer. They were among 95 National Merit Scholars in the state. This is the highest number of National Merit Scholars from any high school in Northeast Ohio.

• Senior Erenalp Kahriman received a college-sponsored National Merit Scholarship from Case Western Reserve University. Scholarship winners are selected from among the finalists in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program.

• Fifty-six Shaker Middle School and High School German students earned recognition in one of four levels of the National German Exam. More than 20,000 students nationwide participat- ed in this year’s exam.

• Dr John Moore, the District’s IB coordinator, hosted a guest delegation from South Korea. They visited the district’s schools to learn more about the District’s IB implementation. Guests in the delegation included a provincial governor of education, teachers, professors and journalists. Every year, the delegation selects one exceptional school system in the world to visit.

The Shaker Heights High School classes of 1950 and ’51, working with the Shaker Schools Foundation, have donated funding for a social-emotional learning curriculum. “Caring School Community” was piloted this year at Lomond and is for students in grades K-8. All of the district’s K-8 schools will begin implementing the program during the 2019-20 school year.

• Graduating Senior Sophie Calabrese won a gold medal in the Girls Single Sculls at the Scholastic National Championship Regatta. She is the first Shaker Heights High School rower in the team’s 25-year history to win a national championship.

Graduating senior Lyle Yost was named the 2019 National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association All America Diving Boys Champion.

Rising senior Jaivon Harrison was the State Runner-Up in the Boys High Jump at the OHSAA Track & Field Championships.

• The SHHS Varsity Super Smash Bros. Esports team advanced to the Esports Ohio League Super Smash Bros. State Championship.

Public Comments: Two residents spoke. A current parent who had spoken at the May board meeting regarding the actions taken against SHHS teacher Jody Podl returned to speak again to the Board. He had hoped to see some action from the board, and he was there to reiterate what he felt to be a badly mishandled matter. He urged the board to issue a formal apology and hoped that they would reexamine their procedures in handling such matters. He would like to see an acknowledgment of mistakes made. His concern is that an “atmosphere of distrust” has been engendered as a result of district actions. A Fernway parent, on behalf of the Fernway community, wanted to thank Dr. Wilkins and the Fernway Task Force as being superb for their rapid response. She thanked members of the board; David Boyer, director of operations; Chris Dewey of Van Aukin Akins Architects; and the principals and teaching staff of Onaway, Mercer and Woodbury. She made special mention of Dana Howard, Fernway PTO president, who she described as going above and beyond in being a “key piece of the puzzle to keep the Fernway community together.” Finally, she commended Fernway School Principal Chris Hayward, who “moves mountains small and tall,” and presented him with an inscribed slate from the original roof of Fernway.

Facilities Update: Summer Construction and Fernway: Mr. Boyer introduced Rick Freer, whose role is to assist Boyer and be his “eyes and ears on the ground.” Mr. Freer is a resident of Shaker Heights and has in the past been involved in facility planning projects. All projects are on schedule and on budget. Regarding Fernway, all bids had been received as of June 11 and most of the contracts have been authorized. Mr. Boyer commented that most of the work up to the present has been behind the scenes. The work this summer may get a bit noisy as alarm and security systems are tested. This will be true for the whole district as capital improvements are made. A communication department has been established to keep the community informed and up to date. Capital improvements, including repairs at Fernway, require a fair degree of staging given the complexity of the projects. Also mentioned was the contract renewal of ABI food services. He feels that ABI is a high-caliber organization, emphasizing its nutritious and varied offerings. Mr. Christman noted that each renewal contract has a specific date and management fee.

Second of three required readings of the Board Policy Review Committee’s recommended proposed policies regarding qualifications and duties of the treasurer, student absences and excuses, student suspensions, reporting of child abuse and mandatory training.

Unanimous approval of various action items by the board, including the treasurer’s financial and budget report to be filed for audit and the adoption of the 2020 Shaker Library Public Tax Budget as was approved by the Library Board of Trustees. Some specifics of the Library budget are: Library Resources totals $19,782,278; Library expenditures total $11,527,034; estimated ending balance $8,255,244. The approval of the Shaker Library budget on a calendar year basis (fiscal year ending in July) is a duty of the Board of Education.

Incoming Superintendent Dr. David Glasner’s report to the board: After spending needed time closing up the school year, Dr. Glasner has been gathering a transition advisory team, which includes representatives from the community: students, parents, teachers, current and former board members, and other invested community stakeholders. Much of his presentation referred to the work of the transition advisors. Approximately 20 people are on this team and will be informally advising the superintendent during the first 100 days of his tenure. They are to provide input on short-term and long-term priorities, and will help connect with other stakeholders in the community. His short-term priorities include hiring and having a convocation for the district. Long-term priorities are strategic planning and work on equity issues. Two questions posed to the superintendent by the task force are: 1. What are your action steps for implementing your ideas? 2. What mistakes do you hope to avoid? A few takeaways resulting from his meetings with the transition team are: 1. Get a few quick victories. 2. Be very visible. 3. Get students involved. 4. Encourage a diverse applicant pool for district positions. 5. Continue equity training. Further advice for Dr. Glasner included: 1. Don’t try to do too much too soon. 2. Be intentional in your new work. 3. Don’t undervalue teacher voices. 4. Don’t assume your previous experience translates to the job of superintendent. Dr, Glasner said that he had been paired up with superintendent mentors. Finally, he commended those who had helped facilitate his transition, including Lori Brem, administrative assistant; senior executive groups; and teacher teams.

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

Anne Batzell, observer

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