Observer Reports

Finance Committee, November 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
Nov. 20, 2017

Members Present: Council members Nancy Moore (chair), Sean Malone, Earl Williams, and Rob Zimmerman; citizen members Martin Kolb and Linda Lalley
Others present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Chief of Police Ed DeMuth, Principal Planner Ann Klavora, Finance Director Robert Baker, Law Director William Gruber

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 7:30 a.m.

 Agenda—Committee actions:

1. The minutes of the Oct. 16, 2017, meeting were approved.

2. Chief DeMuth presented his recommendation to approve the transfer of Police “Personal Service” appropriations to Police “Other” appropriations in an amount of $35,250 to pay for one year of a three-year Support and Maintenance agreement and for the cost related to the data conversion from the police department’s current public safety software to the new Records Management System (RMS) purchased from TAC Computer. The cost of Shaker’s present RMS is $66,000 per year. It is not compatible with the RMS system used by most neighboring municipalities. The Heights Hillcrest Communication Center (HHCC) and the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Council (CVD) have converted to TAC software for Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Mobile Reporting (MR), funded by a Cuyahoga County grant. Shaker Heights is a member of HHCC and is therefore using the TAC software for CAD and MR functions. The cost of the TAC system for RMS would be $28,994 per year, thus saving $37,006 annually. The one-time data conversion cost is $10,000.

Ms. Moore summarized the savings for the city and then asked for questions and comments. Mr. Kolb asked how many neighboring cities are part of the two dispatch systems. Chief DeMuth’s answer: 45 of 67 emergency agencies are in the HHCC and CVD. Ms. Moore asked how the startup of TAC at HHCC has been. Chief DeMuth said there have been some bumps that have been ironed out now. Although HHCC at Severance is already live, Mr. Kolb asked why Shaker would move money when Shaker has excess capital needs. Mayor Leiken said this was a good question. Shaker has infrastructure needs and not enough funds to deal with them, and in addition it has to deal with any emergencies that arise. Chief DeMuth said they had reviewed the existing New World system and the one-time interface cost to HHCC would be approximately $30,000 versus an interface cost of $13,000 for the TAC system. Mayor Leiken commented this would be fiscally responsible and not require new debt. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Kolb moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Malone seconded the motion and it was approved.

3. Chief DeMuth presented his recommendation to approve the services agreement with the Cuyahoga County OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) Task Force Court for use toward additional traffic enforcement patrols as soon as possible, and accept funds in the amount of $9,500 being offered as a grant by the Cuyahoga County OVI Task Force. The Safety and Public Works Committee recommended approval of this request at its Nov. 3 meeting.

The funds would be used as overtime pay for officers to target OVI offenses, not for general policing. Officers would only stop drivers for suspicion of OVI offenses. Mr. Zimmerman asked if there were any additional audit requirements for this grant. Chief DeMuth responded that Sgt. Martin would file a two-page report each month. Mr. Kolb asked if this was only overtime duty and Chief DeMuth confirmed. Mr. Williams asked if juveniles and/or adults were targeted. Chief DeMuth replied that adults were targeted. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Kolb moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Malone seconded the motion and it was approved.

4. Principal Planner Ann Klavora presented her recommendation for authorization of an application for, and acceptance of, a grant up to $75,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant would be used to implement new public art guided by an ongoing visioning process and stemming from recommendations in the 2016 Van Aken District Connections Plan. A one-to-one match is required, and sufficient funds are currently budgeted to meet this requirement. The City Planning Commission recommended approval of this request at its Nov. 8 meeting.

RMS Investment Corp., the developer and manager of the Van Aken Center, is the primary stakeholder and is very supportive of pursuing this grant. The grant is competitive and applications are due in March 2018. Shaker wishes to be prepared by January in order to get early comment on our application. Mr. Williams asked how competitive this process would be. Ms. Klavora stated the grant was national in scope and therefore would be very competitive. Mr. Williams continued, asking if there would be levels of competitions, such as state or regional competition, prior to a final decision. Ms. Klavora answered no, only national, and that Christian Roadman has prepared the application. Ms. Moore confirmed the one-to-one matching funds have been budgeted. Mr. Malone asked how these budgeted funds would be used if Shaker did not win the grant. Ms. Klavora said the funds were part of the public art fund and would be used for other art projects. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Williams moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Kolb seconded the motion and it was approved.

5. Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin presented her recommendation to authorize the contract between the city and the County Board of Health for the year 2018, at a cost of $117,206. The State of Ohio has adopted a requirement that all city health departments become accredited by the federal Public Health Accreditation Board by July 1, 2020, or lose necessary funding from the Ohio Department of Health. Our Health Department cannot achieve public health accreditation without substantial additional resources and reorganization. Health services for city prisoners are now provided by Cuyahoga County in the Solon facility. Resident services would be provided by Cuyahoga County at their existing accredited facilities. Mayor Leiken stated that consolidation with the county health department is responsive to Shaker residents’ fiscal concerns, as was the consolidation of the building and housing departments, and results in maximizing savings to deal with broader challenges “down the road.” Mr. Williams stated the present per capita health department cost is $4.12, that costs for other communities are rising, and asked if that rate would increase after consolidation. Ms. Chaikin replied the cost will probably increase regardless of where the service is offered. Mr. Williams asked what the savings are. Ms. Chaikin replied the savings would be $245,000 per year. Mr. Malone asked if all neighboring cities were now part of the county system. Mr. Gruber responded that Shaker is the only city not part of the county health system. Ms. Lalley asked what services might no longer be offered. Ms. Chaikin said that all services would transfer to county facilities except blood pressure screening, which would be performed at South Pointe Hospital. Mayor Leiken asked if transportation would continue to be provided. Ms. Chaikin clarified that transportation would continue to be provided for seniors, but not for other residents and children. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Williams moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Malone seconded the motion and it was approved.

6. Director of Finance Robert Baker presented his recommendation that the Then and Now Certificate presented for various transactions and their payments be approved. A motion was made and approved.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:27 a.m.
Frank Goforth

City Council & Finance Committee Joint Meeting, November 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights Joint City Council & Finance Committee Work Session
Nov. 13, 2017

Present: Mayor Earl Leiken; Council members Sean Malone, Earl Williams, Tres Roeder, Juliana Johnston Senturia, Anne Williams, Nancy Moore
Also present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Law Director William M. Ondrey Gruber, Finance Director Robert H. Baker, Mayor’s Financial Task Force Chair Martin Kolb, Mayor’s Financial Task Force member Linda Lalley, President of the Shaker Heights Public Library Board Brian Gleisser, Director of Shaker Heights Public Library Amy Switzer.

The mayor called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m. and adjourned it at 9:10 p.m.

The meeting started with a presentation by Ms. Switzer and Mr. Gleisser updating Council on Library services and plans. Members of the Library Board of Trustees were present as well. Prior to the presentation, the mayor said he wanted to make a statement on the record. Noting that he was speaking solely for himself (but with the agreement of his financial task force), he said that given the tax burden in Shaker Heights, the Library Board should consider merging with the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL). He mentioned the possibility of Congress making state and local taxes non-deductible in the pending tax overhaul legislation and worries about this increasing the net cost of local taxes for Shaker residents. “I am concerned at this particular point in time about raising taxes,” the mayor said.

The library presentation emphasized how public libraries are crucial to building strong and resilient communities and that Shaker’s library is nationally recognized for being in the top 2 percent of libraries its size. They asked Council to think of the library as an economic development asset and a conduit of civic engagement. Shaker residents borrowed more than one million items in 2016 and use their libraries twice as often as most communities.

In order to make necessary capital repairs ($5.1 million total: $4.1 million for the Main Library, $1 million for Bertram Woods) and upgrade both Shaker Main and Bertram Woods, the Library Board is requesting an additional 1.9 mills, which would raise Shaker Library’s voted millage from 4.0 to 5.9, but the effective millage would actually be 5.714384, which is well below the county average. (Like the school system, the library system is subject to House Bill 920, so as property values rise, the effective millage goes down.) The board determined that upgrading its facilities would provide the greatest return on investment. Plans are to put the measure on the ballot in May 2018.

With the increase, the library’s millage would represent 2.64 percent of Shaker’s property taxes. The library’s facilities are in dire need of improvement according to the trustees, and the board hasn’t asked for a millage increase in 21 years (1996)—and it has been 14 years since the last bond issue (2004). The proposed millage increase would cost residents an additional $67 a year for every $100,000 of home value; that’s $5.58 a month or 18 cents a day.

The library’s representatives said it studied inclusion with the CCPL in May 2016, but the CCPL wouldn’t comment on future county tax increases and would not consider being a part of CLEVNET. CLEVNET, a consortium of more than 40 northern Ohio libraries operated by the Cleveland Public Library, is one of the largest library resource sharing networks in the United States. CLEVNET, they said, is an excellent example of regionalism because its costs are shared among its members. For every $1 spent, Shaker derives $6 in benefits.

The library wants to act with due diligence and CCPL wants a firm commitment from Shaker (a letter of intent, which is binding) if they are to go through the effort of investigating the process. Shaker Library would like answers to basic questions and doesn’t think it should have to submit a letter of intent. There is no way to know what will happen to the current libraries under a merger—if CCPL would keep two branches, or if it would even consider renovating the Main Library, which the City of Shaker Heights owns. Shaker would have to sign on and turn its assets over before the county will say what it would do. Mr. Gleisser said that the Library Board takes its fiduciary responsibilities seriously and can’t turn assets over and not know what it’s going to get in return. Library board member Dori Katz noted that Shaker could look at what the CCPL has done in other communities and can assume that they won’t maintain two branches.

Ms. Moore pointed out that in the 1980s there was a referendum on whether Shaker should be an independent library system and the voters said yes. Mayor Leiken said his financial task force could facilitate a discussion with CCPL regarding inclusion.

There was public comment prior to the meeting about the fact that no supporting documents for the budget were available to review before the meeting. Council was reminded that it is important to be transparent, that it was frustrating not to have the documents for the budget in preparation for the meeting, and that public comment was adversely affected.

The mayor said the budget presentation was a review of 2017 and where the city is in its performance for 2017, but noted the concern. Mr. Baker said that there was to be no discussion of the 2018 budget, just a year-to-date of the 2017 budget and expenditures.

There was also public comment regarding transport for citizens who will not be able access public health facilities in Shaker any longer. With the $250,000 in savings that will come to the city by eliminating the Health Department, Council was urged to use some of it for transportation to the county facilities in Parma and Metrohealth at South Pointe. Ms. Chaikin said that the city has arranged for this.

Mr. Baker presented 2017 budget projections and discussed the City Fund structure. He stated that the city will need additional debt service next year. The estate tax used to fund the following year’s debt service, but now the city has to make transfers out of the general fund for this. The debt service is to the Port Authority for development of the Van Aken District. It is hoped that a major office building will bring in significant dollars.

Items on the agenda unanimously approved:

  • An ordinance delegating authority for health permits, licensing, and enforcement under Ohio law to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. The Shaker Heights Health Department will cease operations in January. Concern about immunizations for school students was addressed by Ms. Chaikin, who said Warrensville South Pointe Hospital will be open to all ages for vaccines starting in early January. It will be by appointment only. She said 500 residents took advantage of the immunization program offered by the Shaker Heights Health Department, with 181 students utilizing the service. Thanks were expressed to Council member Sean Malone for reviewing the legal documents and ensuring that by delegating to the county the enforcement of our laws, we retain the ability to call back these powers.
  • Amending an ordinance authorizing appropriating grant funds from the General Capital Fund to fund the County Demolition Bond Fund Program, by appropriating $440,000 for the demolition of residential properties.

Audrey Morris

Safety & Public Works Committee, November 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Safety & Public Works Committee
Nov. 3, 2017

Present: Council members Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, and Anne Williams; citizen member Austin McGuan; CAO Jeri Chaikin; Director of Public Works Patricia Speese; Chief of Police Jeffrey N. DeMuth; Battalion Fire Chief James Heath; Mayor Earl Leiken

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:34 a.m. The minutes of the Oct. 6, 2017, meeting were approved as submitted.

The first two items were recommended for approval and sent to the Finance Committee:

1. Chief DeMuth requested the transfer of $35,250 of Police “Personal Service” funds to Police “Other” funds to pay for one year of a three-year agreement for support and maintenance of new TAC public safety software. The new software conforms to that used by the newly instituted Regional Dispatch Center members, and it’s used by 45 of the 57 law enforcement agencies in the county.

2.  Chief DeMuth requested acceptance and appropriation of $9,500 from the Cuyahoga County OVI [Operating a Vehicle Impaired] Task Force for use toward additional traffic enforcement patrols. Shaker Heights has received these grants since 2013, enabling assignment of officers to traffic enforcement details at no cost to the taxpayers. Chief DeMuth noted that about 50 percent of traffic-related arrests are from incidents reported by residents.

Battalion Chief of Fire James Heath presented an updated Cuyahoga County All Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for 2017-2022. Adoption of the plan will expedite the city’s eligibility for federal disaster mitigation funding should a disaster occur within the Shaker Heights boundaries. The plan conforms to FEMA criteria and focuses on prevention, not aftermath. Situations covered in the plan include natural disasters, shooters, and civil disobedience. The plan may be previewed at ready@cuyahogacounty.us.

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 a.m.
Linda Lissauer

Board of Education, October 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
Oct. 10, 2017

Present: Board members Mr. Clawson, Dr. Davidson, Mr. Dykema, Mr. Issacs, Ms. Sutherland
Also present: Superintendant Dr. Hutchings, Treasurer Mr. Christman

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. by President Dykema. The September minutes were approved by the Board.

1. Dr. Hutchings reported on honors and recognitions of staff and students. Twenty-one Shaker students are National Merit Scholars Semifinalists or Commended Students. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in March of 2018.

Karen DeMauro’s portfolio class has participated in The Memory Project for three years. Art work done by the students are donated to world youth who have faced substantial challenges. On www.shaker.org there is a video of children in Tanzania receiving artwork done by Shaker students.

The first successful CommUnity Market was held and co-chaired by Roxanne Jaber, Stacy Hren, and Yvette Reynolds. The Shaker Schools PTO Council CommUnity Builders collaborated with F.A.C.E. (Shaker School District’s Center for Family and Community Engagement), the City of Shaker Heights,  Shaker Heights Library, and Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

The high school has been selected by NASA to host a live 20-minute downlink to astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 1. The event will be streamed live online on NASA TV. Check information at shaker.org.

2. During the period of public communication to the board, a resident recommended the book Mission Impossible, which deals with erasing the achievement gap in several New York State schools.

3. Dr. Whittington  (Director of Research and Accountability) and Mr. Rateno (Director of Student Data and Accountability) highlighted findings of an annual Strategic Plan Metrics report. This is a 54-page comprehensive document concerning metrics and measures of academic progress as part of the five-year Strategic Plan. A period of discussion and questions followed.

4. The Board unanimously approved all personnel items dealing with appointments, changes in assignments, temporary employees, special assignments, supplemental contracts, resignations, and special assignments.

5. In accordance with Board policies, the third of three readings required for Adoption or Revision of Board Policies was unanimously approved.

6. Treasurer Christman’s presentation of the monthly financial report, consisting of the Financial Statements and Interim Investments for the month was accepted. The Request for Tax Advances From the County Treasurer, described as routine, was approved. At the recommendation of the treasurer and the District’s Finance & Audit Committee, the Board approved its five-year Financial Forecast.

7. Discussion followed the treasurer’s report. It was noted that enrollment projections indicate a decline of students entering kindergarten (2018-2022). Other concerns discussed: classes may have to be downsized, hopes that the current real estate developments will encourage families to move into Shaker, the aging of the eight school buildings, schools may need to be consolidated, outside forces affecting the district (such as legislation and changes in the tax code), the need to keep a tight look on spending, how Shaker’s First Class (the district’s preschool program) affects future enrollment and the “mobility factor” (continuous overturning of houses).

8. In his report, Dr. Hutchings commented that Homecoming Weekend was the District’s “best-ever” with two evenings of social events, including Hall of Fame events, and a festival for the families and alumni preceding the Homecoming football game. Special thanks goes to Holly Coughlin, executive director of the Shaker Schools Foundation. Also thanks to custodians, the athletic department, grounds and maintenance employees who worked to make this a very successful weekend.

Mayor Leiken was a special guest at the September Equity Task Force meeting, after Superintendent Hutchings and the mayor met to discuss equity issues. The mission of the task force is to identify and understand equity issues in the district schools, with a particular focus on race.

Dr. Hutchings attended the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum on Sept. 28  and found it to be very informative. He reminded others of the candidates forum sponsored by the PTO with various student organizations at the high school on Oct. 18.

9. It was suggested by Ms. Sutherland that a letter be drafted and sent to Representative Marcia Fudge to address the changes to the tax code and how they may affect the school district. This was met with general agreement as a good idea.

10. The Board expressed appreciation to Ms Sutherland for her work on the Board for 12 years. She is stepping down at the end of the year.

The meeting adjourned for executive session at 8:45 p.m.
Anne Batzell

 

 

Board of Education, October 2017

October 30th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
Oct. 10, 2017

Present: Mr. Clawson, Dr. Davidson, Mr. Dykema, Mr. Issacs, Ms. Sutherland
Also present: Superintendent Dr. Hutchings, Treasurer Mr. Christman

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. by President Dykema. The September minutes were approved by the board.

Dr.Hutchings reported on honors and recognitions of staff and students:

  • 21 Shaker students are National Merit Scholars Semifinalists or Commended Students. National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced in March 2018.
  • Karen DeMauro’s portfolio class has participated in The Memory Project for 3 years.
  • Artwork done by the students are donated to world youth who have faced substantial challenges. On www.shaker.org there is a video of children in Tanzania receiving artwork done by Shaker students.
  • The first successful CommUnity Market was held and co-chaired by Roxanne Jaber, Stacy Hren, and Yvette Reynolds. The Shaker Schools PTO Council CommUnity Builders collaborated with F.A.C.E. ( Shaker School’s Center for Family and Community Engagement), the City of Shaker Heights,  Shaker Heights Library, and Greater Cleveland Food Bank.
  • The high school has been selected by NASA to host a live 20-minute downlink to astronauts aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 1. The event will be streamed live online on NASA TV. Check information shaker.org.

During the period of public communication to the board, a resident recommended the book Mission Impossible, which deals with erasing the achievement gap in several New York State schools.

Dr. Whittington (director of Research and Accountability) and Mr. Rateno (Director of Student Data and Accountability) highlighted findings of an annual Strategic Plan Metrics report. This is a 54-page comprehensive document concerning metrics and measures of academic progress as part of the five-year Strategic Plan. A period of discussion and questions followed.

The Board unanimously approved all personnel items dealing with appointments, changes in assignments, temporary employees, special assignments, supplemental contracts, resignations, and special assignments.

In accordance with Board policies, the third of three readings required for adoption and/or revision of board policies was unanimously approved.

Treasurer Christman’s presentation of the monthly financial report, consisting of the Financial Statements and Interim Investments for the month was accepted. The Request for Tax Advances from the County Treasurer, described as routine, was approved. At the recommendation of the Treasurer and the District’s Finance & Audit Committee, the Board approved its Five-year Financial Forecast.

Discussion followed the Treasurer’s report. It was noted that enrollment projections indicate a decline of students entering kindergarten (2018-2022). Other concerns discussed: classes may have to be downsized, hopes that real estate developments in the city will encourage families to move into Shaker, the aging of the eight school buildings, schools may need to be consolidated, outside forces affecting the district (such as legislation and changes in the tax code), the need to keep a tight look on spending, how Shaker’s First Class affects future enrollment and the “mobility factor” (continuous overturning of students’ residences).

In his report, Dr. Hutchings commented that Homecoming Weekend was the District’s “ best-ever” with two evenings of social events including Hall of Fame events, and a festival for the community, families and alumni preceding the Homecoming Football game. Special thanks goes to Holly Coughlin, executive director of the Shaker Foundation. Also thanks to custodians, the athletic department, grounds and maintenance employees who worked to make this a very successful weekend.

Mayor Leiken was a special guest at the September Equity Task Force meeting, after Superintendent Hutchings and the Mayor met to discuss equity issues. The mission of the Task Force is to identify and understand equity issues in the District schools, with a particular focus on race.

Dr. Hutchings attended The League of Women Voters Candidates Forum on September 28th  and found it to be very informative. He reminded others of the candidates forum sponsored by the PTO with various student organizations at the High School on October 18th. It can be viewed online through a link at www.shaker.org .

  1. It was suggested by Ms. Sutherland that a letter be drafted and sent to Representative Marcia Fudge to address the changes to the tax code and how they may effect the school district. This was met with general agreement as a good idea.
  2. The Board expressed appreciation to Ms Sutherland for her work on the Board for 12 years.

She is stepping down at the end of the year.

The meeting adjourned for executive session at 8:45.

 

Anne Batzell, observer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board of Education, September 2017

October 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
Sept. 12, 2017

Present: Mr. Clawson, Dr. Davidson, Mr. Dykema, Mr. Issacs, Ms. Sutherland; Superintendent Dr. Hutchings and Treasurer Mr. Christman

The meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. by Mr. Dykema, board president. The August minutes were read and approved.

  1. High School Principal Mr. Kuehnle presented a newly created poster that hangs outside the high school office highlighting accomplishments over the past academic year. Much of it is also highlighted in the newest Measuring What Matters, the district’s annual progress report to the whole city of Shaker Heights. It is mailed to every household.
  1. Dr. Hutchings reported that Paula Damm, the high school nurse, joined a panel of experts on eating disorders on WCPN’s “The Sound of Ideas.” The video recording of the show is on the district’s website Shaker.org. High school art teacher Kathleen Fleming was honored with an eXpressions Teacher Celebration award given by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation’s Civic Education Department for her “tireless commitment to student achievement.” Sarah Grube advanced to the semifinals in the Shining Star CLE competition, a solo-singing competition for college scholarships. And Mr. Kuehnle sang the national anthem at a summer Cleveland Indians game. The district’s communications department was thanked by Dr. Hutchings for its work on Measuring What Matters, which is posted on the district website.
  1. Dr. Hutchings spoke about the district “Report Card,” which was soon to be published, with the reminder that “one specific data point should not define the district.” A particular area of note was the daily work within the schools to ensure that every student receives a quality education. He mentioned the public’s concerned reactions to the value of equity and the Equity Task Force, which is working on these issues. He spoke strongly on this matter and feels that addressing these issues, and utilizing resources to do so, will allow positive changes that will be reflected in State Report Card scores—that taking a stand and taking action to address equity and academic disparities in our district is an important priority and value.
  1. Six residents spoke during time allotted for public comments. A number of them represented parents of athletes and expressed opinions strongly in favor of having equity in support and facilities that are “warm, safe, and dry” for all student athletes. This included voiced support from a number of parents for a student athletic center that would serve to give academic support and mentoring to those who may not have support at home or may need a place to do school work without barriers.
  1. Action items and personnel reports were tabled for executive session, which followed the regular meeting.
  1. All business action items were unanimously approved by the board. These included approval of the architectural services agreement with Legat Kingscott. Five firms submitted proposals. Legat Kingscote ranked highest among them.
  1. It was reported in the Facilities Update that there will be a total of 10 pilot classrooms with at least one in each school in the district. Funds had already been set aside for technology improvements before the permanent improvement levy was passed. A Technology Plan now exists along with cost estimates.
  1. A capital project plan must be developed with the support of architects and engineers to determine the scope of work that can be completed between June and August of each year. A working draft for a capital project plan, 2017-2020, was presented to the board.
  1. The board approved the declaration of “impractical to transport” for 19 students living in the district who attend the following schools: Al Ihsan School, Cleveland Montessori School, Communion of Saints School, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Corpus Christi Academy and Lawrence School. In lieu of transportation, the district will offer to pay them the “state per pupil annual reimbursement amount.”
  1. The board Policy Review Committee reviewed, edited, or revised required board policies. Recommended proposed policies were accepted and approved by the board.
  1. Mr. Christman presented his monthly Financial Report, which consisted of the financial statements and interim investments for the month and year-to-date ending Aug. 31, 2017. Also included in the report were action items in the areas of transfers between funds. The adoption of the 2017-2018 annual appropriations was unanimously approved. All detailed statements can be found under board docs at Shaker.org.
  1. Dr. Hutchings reported on various district matters, including the six goals of the Shaker Heights Schools’ Strategic Plan in the areas of The Shaker Experience, Continuous Improvement, Policy, Human Resources and Facilities, Communication, and Finance. The report can be viewed online at Shaker.org: Superintendent’s Report.pdf (47 KB).
  1. Dr. Hutchings reported a good beginning to the school year. He attended the Great Lakes Equity Center. He applauded the people who applied to the Shaker Heights Equity Task Force, which he co-chairs, and acknowledged that this undertaking “takes courage and a lot of work.” Dr. Hutchings commented that discussions around this matter started in the 1960s and that we are still having some of the same discussions, indeed that he had inherited some of the issues the district is currently trying to address. Mr. Dykema has been attending block parties to talk to folks about the work of the Equity Task Force. He ended his thoughts on this matter by saying that we had volunteered to open the doors and it is now our responsibility. He reminded all to check out Measuring What Matters and to encourage others to do so.
  1. Mr. Clawson appreciated that the report of the Finance and Audit Committee is in the Measuring What Matters document. He also appreciated the addition of the stories of individuals that reflects the diversity of the community.
  1. Comments from board members included being mindful of a potential Library levy. Mr. Dykema would like the Finance and Audit Committee to look at the library levy issue and work with them. Other thoughts on the matter of the library was a desire to have the three entities—school board, city and library—sit down together to facilitate working together. The question was asked, “Can we create structures so we are talking to each other and having “institutionalized conversations”?

The board adjourned to executive session at 8:30 p.m.
Anne Batzell

Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission, October 2017

October 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission
Oct. 3, 2017

Present: John Boyle, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, David Weiss, Councilman Rob Zimmerman, Mayor Earl Leiken
Also present: Joyce Braverman and Dan Feinstein, Planning Department; William Gruber, Law Director

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Leiken at 7 p.m. The minutes of the September meeting were approved.

BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

ANDERSON RESIDENCE – 2919 ATTLEBORO ROAD

A public hearing was held on the request of Erick and Hilary Anderson, 2919 Attleboro Road, to the Board of Zoning Appeals for variances to the garage regulations in order to construct a new detached two-car garage in the rear yard. Code allows only one garage structure on the property, located in the rear yard only. The existing detached two-car garage would remain; a new two-car detached garage would be built closer to the house. A total of two garage structures and four garage spaces would be available on the property. The combined garages add up to 1,148 square feet of garage space. Code allows a maximum 800 square feet of garage space.

Mr. Anderson stated that the neighbors are supportive of this project. Plans have not yet been approved by the Architectural Board.

There was no public comment.

As moved by Mr. Zimmerman, second by Mr. Boyle, the request was granted.

C-4 BUILDING- VAN AKEN DISTRICT (Food Court)

A public hearing was held on the request of Bialosky Cleveland, representing RMS Investments, for variances in order to construct a building at the corner of Tuttle, Mead and Warrensville Center roads in the Van Aken District. The applicant proposes a multi-tenant market/food hall building. The site plan review for this building was conducted and approved at the March 2016 City Planning Commission meeting. A variance to the design principles in the Commercial Mixed Use district is required as to the first floor clear window percentage. Code requires 60 percent of a street-facing façade to be clear glass. The applicant proposes 51 percent clear glass on the south façade and 16 percent clear glass on the east façade of the building. A variance is also requested to the required design element which is required to occur every 20 feet. Both the east and north façades do not meet this requirement, with blank walls that measure 113 feet on the east and 160 feet on the north façade. The Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission also requested that details of the screening plan for the service area on Warrensville Center Road be presented to the BZA as part of the March 2016 site plan approval. A screening plan is part of this application.

The applicant proposed to convert the former grocery store site (Fresh Market) into a food hall building. The building is 24,300 square feet containing an anchor restaurant, retail tenants, and smaller vendor spaces. The Architectural Board of Review has approved the design with the understanding that 1) future tenant-space storefronts be maintained as see-through glass; 2) appropriate façade and pedestrian lighting is provided along the Warrensville Center Road frontage; and 3) separate building and tenant signage will be submitted for formal Board review at a future meeting.

Public Comment

Joe McDonald, representing the Thornton Park Neighborhood Association, expressed concern about Warrensville Center being used as a service road. He hopes that in the future, the area will be a walkable mixed-use site.

Rev. Voss of Christ Church also expressed concern about the service aspect of Warrensville Center Road. He would like to see evergreen landscaping to screen the service area.

Mr. Boyle asked what was the hardship regarding the area of glass. The Bialosky representative said that due to the proximity of the parking garage to the north façade and the need for a service area, glass would not be preferred. Additional landscaping will be provided to screen the brick wall along the service area facing Warrensville Center Road.

As moved by Mr. Boyle, second by Mr. Deyfuss-Wells, the variances were granted unanimously. Mr. Leiken noted that the comments of the Thornton Park residents and Christ Church members should be kept in mind as the landscape plan progresses. It will be reviewed by staff.

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

VAN AKEN DISTRICT – LOCAL SIGN DISTRICT

A public hearing was held on the request of Jason Russell, representing RMS Investments, for a Conditional Use Permit for a Local Sign District. The applicant proposes district identity signs in order to provide signage for this new commercial district at the corners of Chagrin Boulevard and Warrensville Center and Farnsleigh roads. A Local Sign District is required in order to create district identity signage, including wall, blade, and projecting signs, as well as murals. The sign plans includes: two blade signs for the parking structure entrances; individual letters for the parking garage wall facing Warrensville Center Road; several painted wall signs or murals on building façades around the property; and address and building name wall signs for entries at each building. Council confirmation of a Conditional Use Permit is required.

A Local Sign District is a designated area of special sign controls, the regulations for which are created specifically for the district in which they will be applied. Once a Local Sign District is approved, it governs the location, type, size, and material of signs in the District in lieu of compliance with the regulations in Chapter 1250—Signs of the city’s Zoning Code, subject to the review and approval of the Architectural Board of Review.

A second Local Sign District will be developed for the tenant signage and presented for review at a later date.

Ms. Braverman noted that the staff recommendation was to approve all signs on the parking garage tonight. Creation of a Local Sign District would be forwarded to City Council for approval. All signs will go back to the Architectural Board and the Planning Commission for approval.

There was no public comment.

As moved by Mr. Boyle, second by Mr. Zimmerman, the proposed Local Sign District and all signs for the parking garage, after approved by the ABR and the Planning Commission, were unanimously approved.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
Gail Gibson

Recreation and Health Committee, October 2017

October 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Recreation and Health Committee
Oct. 4, 2017

Present: Sean Malone, Council member and chairman; Julianna Senturia, Council member; Jennifer Bland, Tamika Rashid, and Sara Schiavoni, citizen members; Alexandria Nichols, Director of Recreation; Magdalena Casals, administrative assistant; and Jeri Chaikin, Chief Administrative Officer

Mr. Malone called the meeting to order at 6:03 p.m. The minutes of the Sept. 6, 2017, meeting were approved as written.

The meeting agenda included two items of business and several updates.

A request to apply for a Senior Transportation Grant:

Senior transportation is a critical quality-of-life service for community members unable to drive, and is especially important to seniors who want to age in place but do not have transportation. Many communities do provide such senior services.

Since 1999 the city has received federal funding for senior transportation through the Older Americans Act Title IIIB Grant, available from the Western Reserve Areawide Agency on Aging. Available for 2018 is $20,269, which would serve as a cash match. These monies would be an offset to the overall city budget for senior transport of $100,000. This is a reduction from the current year budget of $120,000. Ridership is down somewhat and is estimated to level off at 4,000 one-way trips per year.

A short discussion ensued; Ms. Senturia moved to approve the application for and acceptance of the grant from the WRAAA. The motion was approved.

A contract proposal with Senior Transportation Connections (STC) to provide senior transport:

Since 2009 the city has contracted with STC for senior transport services. Between 150 and 250 people register for the service annually and most use it for medical appointments, group shopping, and trips to the Community Building for senior programming.

Trips have decreased in the past three years, with the largest decrease in medical trips. The cause for the drop in ridership is unclear but it’s not expected to go below 4,000 one-way trips annually.

Residents are asked to contribute a minimal amount to help defray the expenses, in amounts ranging from $1 for medical trips to $5 for personal trips. Charges from STC for trips range from $9.50 for group shopping to $23 for medical trips. STC proposes a 3 percent increase in fees for 2018. The city suggests that between 2 and 3 percent would be acceptable.

To questions from the committee, Ms. Nichols said that the city registers the riders every year and has to pay for no-shows.

The committee approved a motion to recommend to Council approval of the contract with STC for the 2018 calendar year, with a cost not to exceed $100,000.

Update from CAO Jeri Chaikin:

The city is developing a proposal to upgrade all city playgrounds. The Recreation and Health Committee will be asked to provide input on that proposal, perhaps at the next meeting.

Update from Recreation Director Alexandria Nichols:

Ms. Nichols shared information about the city’s new teen after-school program called “The Getaway,” which started Oct. 9, serves 9th-12th graders, and is housed at Heights Christian Church. An open house is scheduled for Nov. 3 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Planning for the new program, which has gone on for almost a year, involved the Shaker Heights Public Library, the School District, and the Shaker Heights Youth Center. The program will start as a drop-in program and enrollment/participation is expected to build over time. In the first year, there may be 20 young people. A modest budget includes two part-time staff, equipment, and supplies. Initially Thornton Park Concessions will provide food using USDA guidelines for after-school meals. The Children’s Hunger Network is a possible future resource. Staff will keep track of daily attendance.

Ms. Nichols considers this a pilot program that could have several tiers, beginning with a drop-in program and eventually including a regular ongoing program. There could be a Teen Advisory Board.

A good discussion ensued. Ms. Rashid asked how the program will be promoted and offered several suggestions, such as PR at parent-teacher conferences, inclusion in the high school’s regular weekly robo calls, and publicity through the PTO. Counselors could also provide information to students. Recreation staff were at the Activity Fair earlier this fall and are putting up posters at the high school.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:36 p.m.
Jan Devereaux

Safety and Public Works Committee, October 2017

October 28th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Safety & Public Works Committee
October 6, 2017

Attendance:  City Council Members Juliana Senturia and Tres Roeder, citizen members Brian Gleisser and Ed Long, CAO Jeri Chaikin, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Chief of Police Jeffrey N. DeMuth, Chief of Fire Patrick Sweeney, Mayor Earl Leiken, Law Director William Gruber, and Police Commander Mike Rowe

Committee chair Senturia called the meeting to order at 8:05 a.m. The minutes of Sept. 1, 2017, were approved as presented.

Ms. Speese requested and the committee approved an agreement with RTA for a three-year maintenance schedule for the grounds adjoining the RTA rail right of ways situated in Shaker Heights at a total cost of $835,544. Note: inside the brick wall is RTA’s responsibility, for which there is a planned fall cleanup; RTA is refurbishing the 30-year-old wall along the tracks near Shaker Square.

Commander Rowe described the planned traffic pattern change for Fairmount Boulevard at Green Road. The left hand westbound lane will be a left turn only lane preceded by left lane safety zone markings. The committee recommended approval of the change.

Chief DeMuth presented a plan to install License Plate Readers at Warrensville Center Road and Chagrin Boulevard in January 2018, to become operational in June. The data collected will become part of a regional database and is expected to help in crime prevention and investigation.

Chief Sweeney requested acceptance and approval for the appropriation of a $2,925 State Board of Emergency Medical, Fire, and Transportation Services grant for the enhancement of EMS and trauma patient care. The committee agreed to accept the funds and recommend appropriation to the Finance Committee.

Mr. Gruber submitted a list of changes to the Shaker Heights Codified Ordinances to adopt state law changes to the Criminal and Traffic Code sections. Amendments are made once a year to ensure that the city’s ordinances are consistent and not in conflict with state law. The city will thus be able to enforce these general offense and traffic laws in Municipal Court and the city rather than the state will retain the fees. The committee recommended that City Council approve the changes. Copies of the amended sections will be available at the Council meeting when they are considered.

Following regular business, Ms. Chaikin led a discussion of the use of domestic power tools (such as leaf blowers).  Some considerations included electric vs. gas-powered equipment, restricting use to certain time frames, scope of the problem, etc.

This observer left for work at 8:55 a.m. before the discussion ended.
Linda Lissauer

 

 

Library Board of Trustees, October 2017

October 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights Public Library Board of Trustees
Oct. 23, 2017

In attendance: all board members and library personnel, including Director Amy Switzer.

A presentation of the goals, programs and activities of the library’s Youth Services group was given by Youth Services Manager Shannon Titus. She highlighted direct services to young people from infants to teens, as well as collaboration with public and private schools and other efforts at community outreach. She noted that she welcomes comments and suggestions.

The fiscal officer and the director indicated that revenues to date are slightly ahead of budget projections and that revenues are in line with expectations.

Board President Brian Gleisser noted the annual review for evaluation of the library’s director and fiscal officer will take place in executive session in November. Also on the calendar for November are presentations to Shaker Heights City Council (Nov. 13) and the Shaker Heights Board of Education (Nov. 30).

Ms. Switzer called attention to upcoming events sponsored by the library, including a Nov. 6 author event with Celeste Ng; Letters Home: Veterans for Peace read letters from soldiers from Revolutionary times to the present (Nov. 11, Veterans Day); a presentation on Muslim rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust (Nov. 15, presented by Fern Levy); and a reenactment of slaves’ stories about the Underground Railroad (Nov. 28, presented by Dr. Deborah Abbott).

The capital building project was discussed by board members and Ms. Switzer, and initial conversations have been held with attorneys from Squire Patton Boggs. Library Board votes on aspects of the project will be coming up in November, December, and January. The timeline was discussed.

Statistics on borrowing of library materials were presented, disclosing an increase in e-media borrowing and some decrease in physical books and other materials. Also tracked: programs offered and attended, for the quarter and compared to previous year.

Gifts were accepted, and the meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman