Board of Education, Sept. 10, 2019

October 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs; board members Bill Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Hardaway (who came slightly late), and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner; Treasurer Bryan Christman.

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6 p.m. Find the agenda here.

The board approved the minutes of the meetings held in August. Public comments included one thanking the board for the partnership with Erica Merritt, founder of the organizational development firm Equius Group to support and implement district-wide equity and inclusion efforts; one from Sara Schiavoni, who was disappointed in the scope of a raw data summary that she saw and urged the board to be more data-driven in its strategic plans; and one from high school teacher James Schmidt, who made the point that Shaker summer reading is not only of dead white male authors.

Shaker Schools Superintendent Dr. Glasner recognized the following:  

Shaker Athletics: The Raider football team won the home opener in overtime on Aug. 30 to a full house, and even though they lost their second game, fans are excited about the season and direction of the program under new Head Coach Alex Nichol. Congratulations to senior and U of Michigan commit Lora Clarke, who was named a Max Field Hockey Regional Player to Watch in 2019. Congratulations to junior Kate Hahnenberg on a successful summer of rowing with the U.S. Rowing Olympic Development Program.

Shaker senior Daniel Farkas was selected to participate in the 2019 FBI Future Agents in Training Academy at the FBI Cleveland Field Office, where he and 50 others received hands-on training while meeting FBI employees and learning more about the agency.

A team of educators is participating in an IB conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., this week.

Karen Demauro’s art students at the high school participate each year in the Memory Project Portrait program, creating portraits as special gifts for children facing substantial challenges around the world – this year from Peru.

SHHS and the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum will present a special assembly for junior and senior students on 9/11. This event will be hosted by senior Caleigh Leiken, who was born in NYC on 9/11/2001. The assembly includes honoring first responders, a 30-minute video produced by the museum, and Q and A with Megan Jones, class of 1997, Senior Director of Education at the museum.

Shaker staff and volunteers recently restored the historical Woodbury Rose Garden – so stop by to visit.

Shaker grad Carter Bays, class of 1993, threw out the first pitch at an Indians game in August. He is the co-creator, writer, and executive producer of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Grosse gave an update on facilities, capital projects, and Fernway construction: Future focus will be on bond projects for school year 2019-20 as summer projects are mostly. At Fernway, work continues on the new addition.

Mayor David Weiss and Law Director Bill Gruber made a presentation about a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreement pertaining to the Wendy’s parcel in the southwest corner of Chagrin Boulevard and Warrensville Center Road.

All personnel updates and changes were approved. Dr. Glasner welcomed back Shelley McDermott as the new assistant treasurer, replacing Karen Andrei, who resigned after 10 years of service and has moved to Columbus. He also congratulated Sean Brown, who was promoted from Head Custodian at SHHS to Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds. Dr. Glasner commented on the Middle School Summer Leadership Institute, which allowed the MS staff to work on curriculum and intervention work ahead of the school year.

The following business items were approved: an annual vote on a resolution to waive Career-Technical Training for students in grades 7 and 9 for the 2019-20 school year (the district’s courses exceed that required by the state); authorization of the execution and delivery of a master electric energy sales agreement between the district and Power4Schools’ endorsed electric supplier, Engie Resources (for the next 24 months at the lowest rate in the past 15 years); a resolution approving an MOU for Heights Career Consortium with Cuyahoga Community College with newly offered training in the area of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.

The board held the first of three readings of board policies on items including Educational Equity, Liaison with School Boards Association, Hazing and Bullying, Community Use of School Premises.

The board approved (with one abstention from Ms. Hardaway) the employment of the Riley Law Firm by adding it to the list of law firms/attorneys that may provide legal counsel to the board. This law firm specializes in negotiating the GMP (guaranteed maximum price) in large capital projects such the Fernway reconstruction.

The board approved the Sick Day Transfer Pilot program as outlined in an MOU with SHTA (Shaker Heights Teachers Association), which includes procedures for requesting and donating a sick day and transfer guidelines for qualified recipients. It will be in effect for the 2019-20 school year, after which this program will be evaluated for future application.

The board approved the monthly financial report consisting of Financial Statements and Interim Investments for the month and year-to-date ending July 31, 2019; and approved the transfers between funds that are normal at this time of year. The board also voted to rescind Resolution No. 19-06-91, the Temporary Annual Appropriations for 2019-20 and adopted the 2019-2020 Annual Appropriations.

The Treasurer’s report for July: Real Estate Tax Revenue received in July was $1.1 million, or 6.5 percent less than last year due to a timing difference in advance amounts paid out by the County. The district is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2020 as in Fiscal 2019 in accordance with the new state biennial budget—using the same school funding formula that continues the funding “guarantee.” Other local revenue was $17,842, including the receipt in July of a $12,000 Energy Star rebate in connection with the fall 2019 implementation and associated purchase of Chromebooks for Grades 5 – 12 students.

Moody’s issued its Annual Comment on the district dated 06/14/19. While comment reports are generally prepared unilaterally and do not involve interview sessions with the issuer, the district is given a short advance notice to review and correct any factual errors. There were none to correct. From Moody’s comments: The district’s credit position is very good, and its AA1 rating is higher than U.S. school districts’ median of AA3. The notable credit factors include a robust financial position, a strong wealth and income profile, and a healthy tax base. Also reflected are a mid-range debt burden and a significant pension liability.

Superintendent Glasner shared the district’s two priority areas of focus during this school year: 1. Black student excellence—increase the percentage of black students who excel in school and meet or exceed grade-level standards in literacy and math, particularly in grades 2, 4, 6, 8, and 9 (spanning all buildings), where wider disparities are seen. The district plans to measure success in this area through a variety of metrics, including internal and state assessments, percent of students enrolled in advanced courses, and co- and extracurricular club participation. 2. School culture and climate—to support positive learning environments in schools and reduce the number of serious discipline events by at least 10 percent as compared to school year 2018-19. The district plans to measure this goal by student survey data, Instructional Rounds trend data, referral and suspension data, and co- and extracurricular club participation. To help achieve these goals, five broad areas have been identified for change: 1. Instruction, curriculum, and assessment in classrooms; 2. Relationship-building among all stakeholders, including social and emotional curriculum training; 3. Investing in staff and faculty using equity training, diversity in hiring, and retention plans; 4. Collaborative teaching and learning teams; and 5. Intentional continuous improvement processes. The board asked for monthly progress updates on these areas of focus and would like them to be incorporated in the new strategic plan to be drafted this winter.

The next school boarding meeting is set for Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. in the high school small auditorium.

The board adjourned the public session at 8:05 p.m.

Holly Wang

Respectfully submitted by Observer Holly Wang

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