Board of Education, Dec. 10, 2019

December 14th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The meeting was called to order by Board President Jeffrey Isaacs at 6:03 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members William L. Clawson, Lisa Cremer, and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner, Treasurer Bryan Christman, Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Grosse, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marla J. Robinson, Director of Human Resources Crystal Patrick, Shaker Heights Library Director Amy Switzer, and Shaker Heights Library Board Vice President Michael Bertsch

Superintendent Glasner welcomed the public to the meeting, then introduced Joshua Dunnings, a fourth grade student at Boulevard Elementary, to present his experience of the MAC Scholars program. Principal Neal Robinson then offered brief remarks on events and other projects at Boulevard.

The minutes of the board’s Nov. 7 meeting were approved without comment.

Mr. Isaacs next opened the meeting to public comment. Kim Harris and Roscelle Ogbuji voiced their concerns on the equity of school policies, particularly the equity of the suspension/expulsion policy. Ms. Ogbuji also lamented the lack of empathy and compassion in hallway encounters between students and between school personnel and students. Angela Chapman brought the group “New One Shaker” to everyone’s attention; the group promotes equity in Shaker. Vicki Elder encouraged everyone to complete one of the Strategic Planning Feedback Forms and share their thoughts on equity, or use the online feedback form. Monica Boone felt that student voices were not always heard and asked what form of complaint system is available for students to express their frustrations and suggestions.

Superintendent Glasner acknowledged students and/or staff for special recognition and/or honors: *The artwork of eight Shaker High art students was selected for inclusion in the Cleveland Clinic’s eXpressions exhibition. Shaker Heights High School had more student works selected than any other school in the exhibition. The opening, including a formal program and reception, will be held on Thursday, February 13, 2020. *Fernway students and staff had the opportunity to sign a steel beam on Nov. 13 and 14, which will be the last one put into place at Fernway Elementary. The beam is part of a construction tradition, known as “topping out.” Fernway Principal Chris Hayward thanked Gilbane and Van Auken Akins for carrying on this tradition, and to Shaker Schools COO Jeff Grosse for making it happen. *High School seniors who signed their NCAA Letters of Intent: Calvin Brown, baseball, University of Pennsylvania; Lora Clarke, field hockey, University of Michigan; and Ryan Skall, soccer, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Board President Jeff Isaacs recognized Bill Clawson for his service to the board for the last 8 years. This meeting would be Bill’s last, at least for the near future. The board presented Bill with a Shaker Schools armchair for his service and Bill offered a short remembrance of the progress the board had made during his tenure, particularly regarding equity and the Pre-K program. Mr. Isaacs then asked Mr. Clawson to “take the gavel” and chair the remainder of his final School Board meeting.

COO Jeffrey Grosse, with the help of Gilbane & Associates personnel, presented an update on the Fernway rebuilding project. The roof is going back on and the new addition is being constructed during winter break. Interior wall studs, piping, wiring, and ductwork is being installed in both the old and new sections and drywall installation will begin this month. The building is on schedule to open for classes next August.

Ms. Switzer and Mr. Bertsch provided an update on the main library building restoration and upgrade, particularly upgrades which served the schools and students. These include a Technology Hub, a café, teen services, children’s services, and expanded study rooms on the first floor as well as a “Play & Learn” room on the second floor.

Mr. and Ms. Patrick presented the new administrative procedures for handling reports of employee misconduct. The goals were to build relations with union groups, provide a consistent, repeatable and equitable due process which not only conformed to the Ohio revised Code but also encouraged employee participation and delineated administrator duties. Board members voiced their desire for a process that was more transparent for the community while still maintaining confidentiality for the employee.

Dr. Robinson presented an update on the Strategic Planning Process for the Shaker Schools. The Board has selected Resolute Educational Solutions LLC to help craft the District’s next strategic plan. Parents, staff and the community are encouraged to review and contribute to the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Equius Group founder Erica Merritt presented an update on Educational Equity. A Leading Equity Cohort comprising School Board members, district administrators and Dr. Glassner have met to learn, engage, and explore challenging concepts around race and other dimensions of diversity; a second cohort of community leaders will launch Jan. 22. An Educational Equity Policy Implementation Advisory Team will be formed; more than 130 people have already applied to participate and the first members meeting will be called in January. A Facebook Live event on Jan. 21 will explore the Equity Policy with the community; it will be promoted via email, PTO newsletters, and social media channels. Ms. Merritt and John Morris, president of the Shaker Heights Teacher’s Association, will launch a community book discussion regarding equity and inclusion in early 2020; Ms. Merritt recommended “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram Kendi.

Mr. Clawson asked the board for approval of all personnel actions and reports. All were approved. Dr. Glasner did want to call attention to the retirements of Mathew Hoyt and Deborah Wright for their service of 38 and 35 years respectively.

Dr. Glasner introduced two Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) granting two extra paid holidays for OAPSE Local 149 secretary/clerical workers and SEIU Local #200 workers. The motion was approved.

A first of three readings of revisions to several board policies were presented, a third reading and final vote will occur at the February 2020 meeting.

Mr. Christman presented the monthly financial report and distributed detailed financial statements.

For the fiscal year to date through September 2019: Real estate tax revenue received YTD was $4.2 million, or 15% more than prior year, due to a return to a normalized receipt pattern of real estate tax revenue following the perturbations caused by the federal tax law deductions changes for 2018. The District is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2020 as in Fiscal 2019. Other local revenue was $221,871, or 37.6% more than prior year. The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal YTD was $1 million, or 3.1% more than the prior year, due primarily to timing differences in payments and expected growth in certain expenses. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The financial report was approved.

Mr. Christman next presented a proposal to accept a $22,000 school safety grant from the state of Ohio. The proposal was approved.

Mr. Christman then presented three separate proposals regarding the renewal of insurance administration plans covering dental/medical/drug costs for district employees: a Medical Mutual of Ohio Medical & Hospital Services Agreement, an Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield Dental Services Agreement, and a MMO-Express Scripts Prescription Drug Agreement. The costs for each plan will remain the same as for 2019. The three motions were approved.

Mr. Christman also presented a proposal to approve Tuesday, Jan. 14, as the date for the fiscal year 2020-2021 tax budget hearing. The proposal was approved.

Dr. Glasner reported on the feedback he had received during the community meetings reporting the results of the State Report Card for each school. He was particularly shocked by the doubling in the number of EdChoice designated schools statewide between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 due to the poorly considered changes to the EdChoice criteria. Dr. Glasner was specifically critical of the way “progress” was measured and cited examples how “less excellent” would be judged as “lack of progress,” moving a school onto the designated list, as was the case for Woodbury and Onaway.

The public session was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

Frank Goforth, observer

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