Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees, Feb. 17, 2020

March 1st, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board members Bertsch, Meinhard, Katz, Gleisser, Rashid, Hirsch; Library director Switzer and library staff. Absent: Board member Cicarella.

A special meeting was called to order at 6:37 p.m. and a motion to deal with obsolete records was approved. This is an annual obligation, mandated by law.

The regular meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m. and minutes were approved. Community member (and LWV member) Frank Goforth suggested the library communicate with and provide some guidance to groups that currently hold meetings in library rooms which will not be available during the renovation process.

Board President Bertsch presented an appreciation of outgoing president Gleisser, thanking him for three years of service as board president and especially his leadership during the levy process and preparation for the renovation project. He also noted that board members Hirsch and Cicarella have been appointed to the finance committee.

The fiscal officer’s report was presented and approved. The library had a solid surplus in 2019, much of which was transferred to the building fund. Income came in above budget and expenditures slightly below budgeted amounts.

The director’s report touched on library activities in the near future (a full listing available on the library’s website) and included a renovation update. Intensive work on developing plans with the project budget in mind are proceeding and drawings should be available before the March meeting, at which there will be a design presentation.

A revised media relations policy was approved. Annual usage statistics indicate little change in aggregate from the previous year, but with a continued trend of greater use of electronic media and a slight downturn in other media. Some discussion ensued about the need to adjust usage metrics and develop new ones to reflect new patterns of activity.

Staff changes were reviewed and gifts accepted and allocated before the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 pm.

Kathleen Hickman, observer

Finance Committee, Feb. 18, 2020

February 21st, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Council members Nancy Moore (chair) and Earl Williams; citizen members Linda Lalley, Marty Kolb and Anthony Moore

Members Absent: Committee members Tres Roeder and Anne Williams: citizen member Danielle Sydnor

Others Present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Finance John Potts, Financial Advisor Matthew Stuczynski.

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 7:33 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

Nancy Moore informed everyone of the continuing, outgoing and new incoming members of the 2020 Finance Committee. She also introduced the City’s new Director of Finance John Potts and the City’s Financial Advisor Matthew Stuczynski.

Nancy Moore presented the minutes of the December 9, 2019, meeting with minor corrections for approval. The corrected minutes were approved.

Ms. Chaikin presented a recommendation from the Neighborhood Revitalization & Development (NRD) Committee to approve Gregory Huffman’s application to acquire the city-owned vacant lot located at 3654 Daleford Road for $50 and utilize it as an expanded side yard. Mr. Huffman proposed that he use contractors to landscape the property at a cost of $5,906.

Nancy Moore noted that the criteria for approving vacant City owned properties had been changed from “first come – best served” to “first come – first served”, the requirement for property improvements had been removed, the $75 fee was waived, and the price was set at $1; she asked for an explanation. Ms. Chaikin replied that the planning commission process for purchase was long and finding good landscapers and surveyors was difficult, which inhibited property owners from making offers; the owner still had to survey the property and consolidate the deeds for the home property and side property, which costs several thousand dollars. Mr. Weiss added that today neighbors get the benefit of a City maintained side yard for no cost, so there is small incentive to purchase; however, by lowering the obstacles and changing to “first come – first served” bidding the adjacent property owners had more incentive to buy the property. This not only removed the $615/year maintenance cost per property from the city, it added to the assessed value of the property and changed it to a tax paying asset. Anthony Moore asked if the side property must still be combined with the owner’s home property. Ms. Chaikin replied that it must be. He continued that he did have some reservations about new owners not maintaining properties. Earl Williams asked if storm and sanitary sewers had been disconnected and removed from vacant properties when the dwelling had been demolished. Ms. Chaikin responded that sewers had been capped at the curb, but not removed; all basements and house foundations had been removed. Marty Kolb asked to explain “consolidation”. Ms. Chaikin answered “consolidation” meant that the new owner must have a survey completed which combines the house property and the vacant property deeds into a single tax deed; this process prevents the new owner from “flipping” the vacant property or letting it lay unused. Linda Lalley asked why it would be bad to “flip” vacant lots. Mr. Weiss answered that the City always prefers a buyer who commits to new construction; failing that, the City wants a new owner to invest and take responsibility for maintenance, “consolidation” advances that goal. The recommendation was approved.

Financial Advisor Matthew Stuczynski presented a recommendation to refinance a City bond. The decision to refinance this bond had been made by City Council during an earlier meeting in 2019, but the timing and method of refinancing had been left to the Finance Department. Mr. Stuczynski presented four options and a recommendation. The options were two types of replacement bonds, either taxable or tax-exempt bond; and two methods of sale, either public auction or direct sale to banks. He presented the positive financial impacts for each option, and recommended a direct sale of taxable bonds to banks. The recent fall in interest rates due to the COVID19 outbreak in China presented a time sensitive opportunity to significantly save interest costs for the City over the life of the bond. Earl Williams asked Mr. Stuczynski if he had noticed significant interest in municipal bonds by foreign purchasers. Mr. Stuczynski stated that that there had been 58 straight weeks of municipal bond inflows. Linda Lalley asked if his recommendation was to act now or wait. He answered the City must act quickly to realize the opportunity. Marty Kolb asked if the City Council had to reconvene in order to act. Director Potts replied that the Council had preapproved the refinance of the bond if the savings exceeded 5%, which this did; the question was whether to refinance quickly or wish for more future savings. He felt it was unlikely interest rates would be this low in the near future and they would more likely rise again as quickly as they had fallen recently. Earl Williams asked if this were a time to finance sewer projects using bonds at these low rates. Mr. Stuczynski replied that the time required to prepare new bonds for sale would most likely exceed this short window, but the idea still had merit nonetheless. Mr. Kolb asked Mr. Potts to confirm the recommendation. Mr. Potts confirmed he preferred direct loan purchases by banks due to the reliability and speed of process. Mr. Kolb remarked it was easy to choose to save $500,000 or more for the City. Ms. Lalley asked how hard it was to do a public bond issue, which could save more. Mr. Potts replied it took a lot of time and the probability of interest rates rising before the issue was high. Nancy Moore asked if there was consensus among the committee to proceed and everyone agreed.

Nancy Moore asked if there was any other new business, there was none. Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:29 am.

Frank Goforth, observer

Board of Education, Feb. 11, 2020

February 21st, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board President Heather Weingart and board members Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Lisa Cremer, Emmitt Jolly and Jeff Isaacs; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner; Treasurer Bryan Christman

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Weingart at 6 p.m. The agenda may be found here. Ms.  Weingart welcomed Mercer Elementary School 4th grade students Lincoln Goldstein, Isaac Luzar, and Nkiru Ogbuji who shared their school experiences in a skit. It was followed by comments from Mercer Principal Lindsay Florence.

The minutes of the January meetings were approved without comment. Ms. Weingart then opened the meeting to public comment. Dan Hoffman was interested in seeing what Shaker is teaching students regarding socialism. Many Woodbury students and parents commented on the abrupt changes to Wolfpack Club and would like to discuss this further.

Dr. Glasner then acknowledged students and/or staff for special recognition and/or honors: 1. Students and friends raised $10,500 for childhood cancer research at the St. Baldrick’s Event at the high school. The annual head-shaving event, organized by junior Morgan Fowler and freshman Parker Roeder, included principal Eric Juli, who shaved off his beard!

2. High school engineering teacher Joe Marencik recently became a certified FANUC Handling Tool Operations and Programming CERT Instructor. Dr. Marencik can now certify high school students on the operation and programming of the school’s FANUC robot and will eventually be able to certify Heights Consortium students. 3. The middle school’s Power of the Pen team competed in a 16-school tournament and a number of students took honors and will compete regionally in April. 4. Senior boys basketball standout Dakota Cochran reached 1,000 career points during the Jan. 31 game vs. Strongsville.

Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Grosse provided an update on Fernway with help from Todd Gerber, Gilbane Senior Project Manager. Mr. Gerber shared a “walking tour” throughout the whole building. The interior work is still on track to be substantially complete by May 15 and final completion is on track by July 20, 2020. Drywall will be almost done in a week. Roof slate tiles are continuing to be mounted. New boilers are on site and piping is in progress. Mr. Gerber also reviewed districtwide improvements with key dates. Discussion ensued regarding potential tree removal around Boulevard and Woodbury schools, which will both be undergoing waterproofing and area well work. Gilbane will seek additional opinions from the city and from arborists on which if any trees will need to be removed for safety and will replace two for one. A temporary road will be built in the front yard of Woodbury to allow equipment to get to areas needing waterproofing.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Marla J. Robinson provided an update on the Strategic Planning process. Resolute, the district’s partner in helping craft the new plan, has met with each building team, the superintendent’s leadership team, the data department, teachers, etc. several times with onsite and online work and is on target for a plan to be presented at the Feb. 25 work session and adoption at the March 10 board meeting. Resolute also made 108 classroom visits, met with 40 focus groups, and has been looking at a wide variety of data collected, including discipline disparities, GPAs, graduation rates, and engagement of students.

Ms. Weingart asked the board for approval of all personnel actions and reports. The Temporary Employees actions were handled separately, since one of the actions involved a family member of a Mr. Jolly, who abstained from the vote. Dr. Glasner announced the appointment of George Clark as principal at Lomond. Mr. Clark had been the interim principal.

Mr. Christman answered questions regarding a resolution authorizing the negotiation and execution of a renewal lease agreement for the Innovation Center at the city’s Community Center between the BOE and City of Shaker Heights. In 2014 the district entered a five-year lease with the city. The lease expired in June 2019. The resolution gives authority to the president of the board, the superintendent and the treasurer to finalize negotiations for a new lease. The board voted to approve this resolution.

The Board voted to appoint Melissa Hirsch to the Shaker Heights Public Library Board of Trustees. Ms. Hirsch, currently serving an unexpired term ending March 31, 2020, will now serve a seven-year term from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2027.

Ms. Weingart asked the board for approval of the adoption and revision of 13 board policies at its third of three readings. After no additional comments, the board approved them unanimously.

Mr. Christman presented the monthly and December year ending financial report and the transfer between funds for the fiscal year to date through December 2019: Real estate tax revenue received YTD was $4.2 million, or 15% more than the 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 deduction changes in 2018. The district should now be returning in Fiscal 2020 to a normalized property tax receipt pattern. The district is expected to receive approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2020 as in Fiscal 2019; the new state biennial budget uses the same school funding formula and continues the funding “guarantee.”

Other Local revenue was $582,201, or 76.2% more than the prior year, due primarily to a rebate of $365,775 from sexennial reimbursement of county reappraisal fees. Other State revenue was $118,071, or 86.1% more than the prior year, due to the $117,616 receipt in October representing one-half of the annual amount for the new Student Wellness & Success Funds enacted with the new State biennial budget. Total revenues are $5 million, or 11.7% more than the prior year, amount, due primarily to the real estate tax difference described above.

The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal YTD was $0.6 million, or 1.3% more than the prior year amount, due primarily to timing differences in payments and expected growth in certain expenses; but the district currently projects expenditures in total to be $0.2 million or 0.16% above budget as projected through the end of the fiscal year. The combined net variance of income and expenditures is a favorable variance of $0.5 million as currently projected through the end of the fiscal year. In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The financial report was approved and placed on file for audit.

Mr. Christman next presented a brief demonstration of a new analytical tool called 5Sight available through Forecast5. This program was designed specifically for schools, higher education institutions, and municipalities and accesses a website of data downloaded from the Ohio Department of Education and other sources and allows users to make benchmark reports comparing Shaker to other districts by selecting criteria and districts to include. The program can create customized dashboards. For more information, click here.

Dr. Glasner presented his monthly report to the Board. He reported that due to work by the Educational Equity Policy team, there is an opening for an Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He also thanked Shaker residents regarding their opposition to EdChoice but cautioned that we will need to continue this opposition. He talked about the long-term facilities process underway. He applauded the work of the Shaker Schools Foundation and encouraged people to support and buy tickets for its signature fund-raising event, The Night for the Red & White, March 7, 2020.

The Board adjourned the public session at 8:10 pm.

Holly Wang, observer

Planning Commission/Board of Zoning Appeals, Feb. 4, 2020

February 11th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports, Uncategorized

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Sean Malone, council member; Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, citizen member

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; William M. Gruber, law director

The agenda and all supporting documents for this meeting may be found here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02042020-388?packet=true

The meeting was said to be recorded, but the audio was not available at the time of this writing; there is still no audio of the January 2020 meeting available.

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. Mr. Feinstein had been waiting for Dr. Ganning to arrive, but she was delayed and did not get to the meeting. Before attending to the meeting’s business, Mayor Weiss welcomed Sean Malone as the council representative to the Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission.

The minutes of the Jan. 7, 2020, meeting were approved unanimously, with one correction.

Fernway School – 17420 Fernway Road

Public Hearing on the request of Chris Dewey, Van Auken Akins Architects, on behalf of the Shaker Heights School District, Fernway School, for site plan review, subdivision of land, and variances in order to expand the parking lot and consolidate the playground as part of the renovation of the school. Two building additions and a subdivision of land were approved last year as part of the renovation of the fire-damaged school building. The site work includes expansion of the parking lot on the Dorchester Road side of the building and consolidation and relocation of the outdoor play area to the southern rear yard. The applicant proposes to consolidate two parcels of land. The proposed parking lot adds 18 spaces in the Dorchester Road side yard, set back 12 feet from the property line and screened with shrubs, but code requires a 50-foot setback from the street and a 25-foot landscape area for a parking lot. The dumpsters are proposed to be enclosed with a masonry wall and remain located in the Ardmore Road side yard, but code allows dumpsters only in the rear yard (Fernway School has three front yards since it faces three streets).

During the public hearing, Brendan Daly, a resident of Ardmore Road whose property abuts the southern rear yard of the school, expressed concern about the proposed landscape screening for the playground and what he believed would be increased use of the site, perhaps even to 24/7/365, when finished. The architect stated there would be ample site lighting and the mayor indicated regular police patrols of the area would prevent problems.

Staff suggested approval of the site plan and variances to both dumpster location and parking ordinances, with the conditions that the final subdivision to combine two parcels into one under district ownership be submitted to the city and filed with the county, and that a taller shrub species be used in the landscape bed on the Dorchester Road side

The board voted unanimously to approve the site plan and variances.

The meeting was adjourned around 8:00 p.m. The next meeting is March 3 at 7 p.m.

Barbara Bradley, observer

City Planning Commission/ Board of Zoning Appeals, Jan. 7, 2020

January 22nd, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: David Weiss, mayor and chair; Rob Zimmerman, council member; Joseph J. Boyle III, Kevin Dreyfus-Wells, and Joanna Ganning, citizen members

Others Present: Joyce Braverman, director of planning; Dan Feinstein, senior planner; William M. Gruber, law director.

The agenda and all supporting documents for this meeting may be found here:

https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_01072020-376

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. He announced that during its meeting the previous Monday evening (Jan. 6), City Council appointed newly re-elected Sean Malone as the council representative to the Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission effective Feb. 1. The mayor thanked Mr. Zimmerman for his eight years of service, and Mr. Zimmerman in turn thanked his colleagues for their work on the board.

The minutes of the Dec. 3, 2019, meeting were approved unanimously, with minor corrections.

Tapas Lounge/Bar – 16704 Chagrin Blvd. (across the street from Heinen’s)

Continuation of a Public Hearing on the request of Kenneth Gibson, Tapas Lounge/Bar, for a Conditional Use Permit for a lounge/bar and for a variance to the parking requirements since there is no onsite parking. In this former retail space, the applicant proposes to establish a lounge/bar, a similar use to the brewpub/wine bar conditional use category in the Commercial Mixed Use zoning district. This case was continued at the July 2019 meeting so the applicant could apply for the Conditional Use Permit.

Mr. Gibson presented the plans for the Tapas Lounge/Bar. He contends that the primary use is as a restaurant, that no permit is needed, that he received permits last year to begin renovation and began construction in January. Mr. Feinstein stated that a permit was erroneously issued by the Building Department for interior renovation without completing the zoning review and, further, that what has been built does not conform to the plans approved by the Building Department. Mr. Gibson believes that he has done what is required of him.

Staff suggested denying the Conditional Use Permit for the following reasons: the applicant has not submitted information about how the intended use is similar to a brewpub/wine bar, that none of the Conditional Use Permit standards have been addressed, and that there is no information on file relative to operational use, maximum number of patrons, or security. Further, the property is adjacent to single and two-family residences.

During the public hearing, a Kenyon Road resident who lives behind the proposed lounge/bar, spoke about the noise, gunshots, and nuisance problems from A Touch of Italy restaurant on Chagrin Boulevard to the east. She has been calling the police regularly for disturbances at that restaurant since the late 1990s. She likes living in Shaker but may be forced to relocate if similar problems occur at the Tapas Lounge/Bar. Ellory Smith, of Warrensville Heights, spoke in favor of the lounge/bar. Mr. Smith, a minority partner of Mr. Gibson in this enterprise, was concerned that the city allowed construction to begin and that a considerable amount of money had already been spent on renovations. He also stated that the Tapas Lounge/Bar should not be blamed for problems at other establishments. Mr. Gruber responded that Cleveland Heights had revoked Mr. Gibson’s permit to operate in that city because he did not comply with requirements issued for his establishments there. Mr. Gibson objected to that statement, saying it was not true, and Mr. Gruber replied that he was quoting from Cleveland Heights records. The mayor closed the public hearing and asked for a motion. Mr. Gibson and Mr. Smith left the room before the vote was taken.

The board voted unanimously to deny the Conditional Use Permit and that the parking variance was moot since the permit was denied.

Shaker Redo LLC – 3700-3704 Lee Road

Public Hearing on the request of Nick Fedor, Shaker Heights Development Corp., representing Shaker Redo LLC, for a Conditional Use Permit to establish a Local Sign District and variance to the sign regulations in order to install a sign projecting above a building cornice line. The applicant proposes to mount a blade sign, wall signs, and window signs to provide signage for the commercial buildings at the corner of Lee and Nicholas Roads. A Local Sign District is required in order to use blade or projecting signs. There is one blade sign proposed on the Lee Road side in order to identify businesses, and it is proposed to extend above the flat roof. Code does not allow a sign to extend above the cornice line of a building, but this site is two buildings. Council confirmation of a Conditional Use Permit is required.

Staff supported the request with the following conditions: no portable signs are allowed; projecting signs are limited to 12 square feet with a 3-foot projection; signage requirements will be included in tenant leases; all signage requires Architectural Board of Review design approval.

Elicia Gibbon, Gibbon Architecture, presented the signage plans for the buildings, which included gooseneck lighting and aluminum cutout letters, a wall sign on the Nicholas Road side, and a projecting sign on the rainscreen element. The signage will join the two buildings visually. The Architectural Board supports the blade sign design,

There were no comments or questions during the public hearing. The board voted unanimously to approve the Conditional Use Permit to establish a Local Sign District.

Nature Center at Shaker Lakes – 2600 South Park Blvd.

Public Hearing on the request of Jodi McCue, Environmental Design Group, on behalf of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, for improvements to public land in order to replace the Stearns Trail. The Nature Center is reconstructing the trail with essentially the same layout, which includes sections of wood boardwalk, bridges, benches, platforms, and a treehouse. A new trail entry feature is proposed in the Nature Center parking lot as well as new entries at both South Park and West Park boulevards. The two West Park entries will be connected by a 3-foot-wide mulch path that extends to the Shaker Boulevard sidewalk. Council approval of improvements to public land is required.

Staff supported the request based on the following: the renovations match the new All People’s Trail; the trail is being replaced in essentially the same location; the amenities and access benefit the general health and welfare of residents; portions of the trail are ADA accessible; and the essential character of the neighborhood is not negatively affected.

Ms. McCue presented the plan and Kay Carlson, director of the Shaker Lakes Nature Center, provided further information.

During the public hearing, a neighbor across West Park asked about sight lines from street level, especially the proposed treehouse, which is not yet designed. Ms. McCue and Ms. Carlson assured him that the top of the treehouse would not project above street level; it is merely replacing the current structure, which is at the level of Doan Brook. They also assured him that the trailheads would be simple, comprising only an exposed concrete walk, cast sandstone bench, bike rack, and trash receptacles.

The board voted unanimously to approve the improvements to public land in order to replace the Stearns Trail at the Nature Center.

The next meeting is Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Barbara Bradley, observer

Library Board of Trustees, Jan. 21, 2020

January 22nd, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Bertsch and Katz. Absent: Cicarella, Gleisser, Hirsch, Meinhard, Rashid.
Lacking a quorum, the board could do no business and immediately adjourned the meeting.

Kathleen Hickman, observer

Board of Education, Jan. 14, 2020

January 17th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board President Jeffrey Isaacs and board members Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Lisa Cremer, Emmitt Jolly and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. David Glasner, Treasurer Bryan Christman, Executive Director of Communications & Public Relations Scott Stephens, Director of Buildings & Grounds David Boyer, Director of Primary Education Dr. Erin Herbruck, Director of Pupil Services Elizabeth Kimmel, Preschool Coordinator Kristin Koengsberger, High School Principal Eric Juli, Assistant Principal Tiffany Joseph, and teachers Stacey Steggert and Marc Enie

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Isaacs at 6 p.m. The agenda may be found here.

Mr. Isaacs explained to the public there would be an organizational meeting to install newly elected board members and elect new officers preceding the regular meeting. Mr. Isaacs then welcomed three Lomond Elementary School 4th grade students to share their IB experiences, followed by comments from Lomond Interim Principal George Clark.

Mr. Christman administered the oath of office to new board member Dr. Emmitt Jolly and returning member Jeffrey Isaacs. Heather Weingart was then nominated and unanimously elected president of the school board for 2020 and Ayesha Bell Hardaway was nominated and unanimously elected vice president for 2020. The board then unanimously agreed to serve without pay and approved several motions renewing various statutory requirements.

Ms. Weingart opened the regular meeting with a vote on the approval of the Dec. 10, 2019, board meeting minutes. The minutes were approved without comment.

Ms. Weingart then opened the meeting to public comment. Angela Chapman introduced herself and the members of the NewONEShaker group promoting equity in the community.

Superintendent Glasner shared the sad news of the death on Jan. 10 of Marcia Joan Jaffe, a beloved retired teacher and cofounder of SGORR. A fund will be established in her honor by SGORR and other events are being planned to commemorate her contribution to the community.

Dr. Glasner then acknowledged students and staff for special recognition: Shaker Heights High School is the No. 1 public high schoolin Ohio, according to PolarisList, a website that gathers data from public and private high schools nationwide and ranks them based on how many students from a high school matriculate at top colleges. Currently, the site tracks Harvard, Princeton and MIT.

The high school has been selected as a German American Partnership Program (GAPP) School of Distinction, which recognizes schools for their outstanding engagement and best practices that facilitate youth exchanges in their school, community, and beyond. Congratulations to German teachers Keith Szalay and Andrea Bradd Cook.

The SHHS class of 1950-51 and PTO are bringing Improbable Players to our district later this month. Improbable Players is a theater group whose work focuses on addiction, alcoholism and the opioid epidemic. There will be two in-school performances and one evening public performance on Thursday, Jan. 23.

The Communications Department, led by Assistant Director Kristen Miller, implemented a new staff Intranet site on shaker.org. The new site provides a password-protected home for employee-specific information.

Members of the boys and girls basketball teams got a special preview before the Cavaliers-Charlotte Hornets game Jan. 2. They were invited to watch warm-ups with the players, including Shaker alum and Charlotte point guard Terry Rozier (SHHS ’12).

Mr. Stephens introduced Betty J. Halliburton, Partnership Specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce – U.S. Census Bureau, for a presentation about the importance for school districts to get an accurate count during the 2020 Census. The census occurs only once each decade and an education budget of $675 billion is at stake, particularly affecting special needs and low income students. There will be a special effort to count babies aged 0-5 years. Ms. Halliburton stressed that there was no citizenship question and that all people should be encouraged to answer the census online if possible. The census will begin in March and there are many local census worker positions available to adults over age 18 paying $22.50 per hour to work in their own neighborhood and earn some college tuition money.

A Fernway School update was provided by Mr. Boyer along with Todd Gerber, Gilbane Senior Project Manager, and Christopher P. Dewey, Principal Architect, Van Auken Akins Architects. The interior work will be substantially complete by May 15 and final completion is on track for the first day of classes Aug. 19, 2020. All wall studs, and mechanical, electrical and water installations, are complete and insulation is installed on the second floor. Drywall is next. Roof trusses are set, sheathing is complete, and slate tiles are being mounted. The added parking along Dewey Street requires a zoning variance, which will be presented to neighbors Jan. 30 and then to City Council Feb. 4.

Director of Primary Education, Dr. Erin Herbruck, along with Ms. Elizabeth Kimmel, Director of Pupil Services, and Mrs. Kristin Koengsberger, Preschool Coordinator, reviewed changes to Shaker Schools Early Childhood Program. The goal is to expand the preschool offerings with class compositions that are reflective of the Shaker community. Preschool offerings currently cost $11,000 per student per year, and in order to expand, some changes will be made to the program, including an increase in tuition for the full-day “Shaker’s First Class” program and the implementation of tuition for the half-day “Integrated Preschool” program. The changes: The new “Early Childhood Program – Full Day” will accept up to 18 students per class aged 3-5 years for two classrooms offered only at Onaway School, with paraprofessional support based on student need. Tuition will increase from $8,000 to $9,000 per year, with free or reduced meal eligibility rather than full scholarships.

The new “Early Childhood Program – Half-Day” will remain at Onaway with five classrooms of 16 students per class and paraprofessional support based on student need. Tuition of $2,000 per year will be charged for students without special needs, and free or reduced meal eligibility.

There will be an enrollment lottery due to the level of interest. Program information will be shared publicly on or around Jan. 17; information sessions will be held Jan. 23 and Jan. 27, with applications due Feb. 7 and acceptance notifications made Feb. 21.

High School Principal Eric Juli, Assistant Principal Tiffany Joseph and teachers Stacey Steggert and Marc Enie provided an update on their culture and community efforts. The goal is a culture of trust and risk-taking between students, faculty, and staff whereby each student feels connected to at least one adult in the school.

Ms. Weingart asked the board for approval of all personnel actions and reports. All were approved. Ms. Weingart additionally invited public comment regarding the proposal to reemploy retiree Lisa Gibson as senior administrative assistant, the position Ms. Gibson held before her retirement. There were no public comments.

Dr. Glasner recommended authorizing the execution and delivery of an electricity audit agreement between the District and Power4schools’ partner, Yankel and Associates. These audits have historically identified billing errors in favor of school districts amounting between $5,000-$23,000 per district. The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Dr. Glasner recommended ratifying the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Shaker Heights Board of Education and the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, Local 200, SEIU, reducing the pay of member Isaiah Leak by $1 per hour of pay effective from Oct. 21, 2019, until he obtains his required student endorsement for his CDL license. The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Dr. Glasner recommended the school board adopt a Resolution Opposing the State of Ohio EdChoice Scholarship (Voucher) Program. The recommendation was approved unanimously.

Dr. Glasner presented a second reading of recommended revisions to 13 board policies. A third reading and vote on these policy revisions will occur at the next board meeting.

Mr. Christman presented the monthly financial report and the transfer between funds for the fiscal year to date through November 2019: Real estate tax revenue received YTD was $4.2 million, or 15% more than the 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 $206,063, or 30% more than the prior year. Other state revenue was $118,071, or 86% more than the prior year due to the $117,616 receipt in October representing one-half of the annual amount for the new Student Wellness & Success Funds enacted with the new state biennial budget. Investment earnings were $175,050, or 30.8% more than the prior year. The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal YTD was $0.6 million or 1.6% more than the prior year amount, 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 recommendation to adopt the 2020-2021 Tax Budget and was directed to file the tax budget with the Cuyahoga County Budget Commission.

Dr. Glasner reported on his discussions last week with the Educational Equity Policy team, his sharing with State Senator Matt Dolan the results of meetings with Shaker residents regarding their opposition to EdChoice, his meeting with the district PTO Council Jan. 13, the “Hey Shaker” podcast on EdChoice, and the Facebook Live event scheduled Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. regarding Educational Equity.

The board adjourned the public session at 8:32 p.m.
Frank Goforth, observer

Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee, Dec. 11, 2019

January 17th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

The meeting focused on one business issue: Accepting Round 3 SBA-Muni-County Small Business Initiative Funding ($150,000) and appropriate $50,000 from the Housing and Economic Development Reserve Fund to replenish the SBA Shaker Partnership Loan fund.

Shaker Heights was one of two cities to successfully pilot the first round of the SBA-Muni-County Small Business Initiative Funding in 2014. To launch the pilot program, the city and Cuyahoga County each committed $250,000. Of that initial $500,000 fund, $143,654 remains. There are three possible projects planned for the first quarter of 2020. To be able to continue to support small business growth throughout the remainder of the year, the city applied to receive Round 3 funds ($150,000) from the county. The Round 3 county awards for Shaker Heights, Lakewood, and Cleveland Heights are subject to final approval from the Cuyahoga County Board of Control as well as a required contribution by the city of $50,000. Total Round 3 funding ($200,000) in addition to the remaining pilot funds ($143,654) will bring available loan funds to $364, 654. This proposal passed.

The second item on the agenda was an update by Colin Compton about Neighborhood Engagement Work with Kay Coaching. Neighborhood Engagement focuses on building relationships with the residents using a “bottom-up” approach. The residents are encouraged to participate and establish connections with each other, building on the existing skills and interests that they possess. Ultimately, the goal is to build safe and active streets, self-supportive and stable networks, and “pride of place.”

If you are interested in seeing a copy of the PowerPoint, please contact Eileen Anderson at eileenperryanderson@gmail.com.

Eileen Anderson, League observer

Finance Committee, Dec. 9, 2019

January 8th, 2020  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen member Anthony Moore

Others present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Interim Director of Finance Frank Brichacek, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Director of Economic Development Laura E. Englehart, Director of Recreation Alexandria Nichols, and Senior Economic Development Specialist Katharyne Starinsky

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:37 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the Nov. 18 Finance Committee meeting and corrected minutes of the Oct. 21, 2019, meeting for approval. Both meeting minutes were approved.

Ms. Nichols requested that the Finance Committee recommend to Council the approval of a contract with Senior Transportation Connections (STC) to provide transportation services for senior Shaker residents who are financially or physically unable to transport themselves. The contract term is Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, with a cost not to exceed $110,000. This amount is included in the 2020 proposed budget for senior transportation. Mr. Williams noted that 65% of senior trips last year were medical-related and asked if most were to South Pointe Hospital or the University Circle hospitals. Ms. Nichols confirmed that they were. Nancy Moore added that she had questioned the funding of this service in the past but has learned from many of our long-time resident seniors that they are critically dependent on the service, not only after losing their ability to drive but particularly when they have difficulty walking or cannot walk at all. Many cannot afford taxis or cannot afford smart phones to arrange rides online. They become prisoners in their own homes where they dream of aging in place. Anthony Moore asked if there were eligibility requirements other than age and residency. Ms. Nichols replied that physical disabilities could qualify a non-senior. Mr. Moore asked if a resident was automatically eligible if they met the age requirement. Ms. Nichols replied that they must first register with the city to confirm eligibility. Mr. Moore asked if a senior was limited to one-way trips. Ms. Nichols answered that a senior can make a round trip, but it is charged as two trips. The request was approved.

Ms. Starinsky requested that the Finance Committee recommend to Council that the city enter into an agreement with the county and federal Small Business Administration (SBA) to accept Round 3 SBA-Muni-County Small Business Finance Initiative funds in the amount of $150,000 and appropriate $50,000 from the Economic Development and Housing Reserve Fund to participate in the Round 3 initiative. Shaker Heights was one of two cities to successfully pilot the first round of these loans in 2014. Since then the city has invested $356,346 in forgivable loans, which resulted in $2,425,009 in total financing for new small businesses. Round 3 will emphasize attracting locally run small businesses, rather than franchises, to the Chagrin-Lee area. Mr. Williams remarked that Protem Healthcare was a home run from the first round of funding and asked if this business was really able to employ 50 people in its small office. Ms. Starinsky replied that Protem had many employees who would check in at the office and then travel to individual homes where their services were provided. Mr. Williams then asked if Protem would need to move to a larger building. Ms. Starinsky replied that Protem had inquired about expansion but were not planning to move. The request was approved.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8 a.m.

Frank Goforth, LWV observer

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