Observer Reports

Neighborhood Revitalization and Development Committee, Sept. 4, 2019

October 5th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Request to Appropriate $150,000 for Demolition in Fund 223, Housing Nuisance Abatement Fund (HNAF)

William Hanson, Housing Commissioner, made a request to appropriate $150,000 from the housing reserve to be used for demolition activities. These funds were received by the city as reimbursements from previous demolitions and placed in a nuisance abatement revenue account. While this demolition work was funded through the Cuyahoga County Demo Fund, the county has authorized the city to keep any reimbursed demolition funds provided such funds are used soley for additional demolitions.

There are currently five to seven vacant and abandoned homes under consideration for demolition and this request will ensure funds are available should the determination be made to proceed with demolitions. Of note: the process involved in determining a demolition designation is lengthy.

Vacant and abandoned homes that are blighted negatively impact property values and quality of life in a neighborhood and can become magnets for crime. The city closely monitors vacant properties in an effort to keep them secure and in compliance with the city’s Vacant Property Ordinance. If an owner fails to take action to repair a vacant, abandoned, and blighted house, the city may declare the property a public nuisance and order all structures repaired or demolished. If the owner fails to comply, the city may proceed with demolition. The city may also consider demolition of deteriorated vacant homes acquired through the tax foreclosure process.

There are currently 302 vacant homes in the city, most located in the Moreland and Lomond neighborhoods, and the vast majority are reasonably well maintained. Only a few are showing signs of deterioration. 

The city has received three separate awards for demolition funding through the County Demo Fund since 2012 totaling $2,140,000, and 155 houses and eight commercial buildings have been demolished during this period by the city or the County Land Bank acting on Shaker’s behalf.

The city has applied to the county for an additional $400,000 of demolition funding and anticipates a favorable response to this request although the award has not yet been made.  The county is pivoting away from demolition to rehab for vacant homes, so this is probably going to be the last round of funding for demolition.

The Committee unanimously approved appropriating $150,000 for demolition.

Board of Education, Sept. 10, 2019

October 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

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

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

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

Shaker Schools Superintendent Dr. Glasner recognized the following:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holly Wang

Respectfully submitted by Observer Holly Wang

Safety & Public Works Committee, Sept. 6, 2019

October 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Council members Nancy Moore (chair), Julianna Johnston Senturia, Tres Roeder, Anne Williams; citizen members James Brady, Austin McGuan, Jonathan Hren, James Sammon

Others present: Mayor David Weiss; Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin; Planning staff Ann Klavora, Cameron Roberts; Director of Public Works Patricia Speese; Deputy Chief of Fire James Heath; Police Chief Jeffrey DeMuth; administrative assistant Debra Messing; Law Director William M. Ondrey Gruber.

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 8 a.m.

Agenda:

Minutes of the June 7 and July 12, 2019, meetings: Approved with minor corrections.

Presentation of Scooter Share Update. Mr. Roberts explained Cuyahoga County Council has approved four vendors for motorized scooter share operations. They are already operating on Cleveland streets from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and will soon be introduced at Shaker Square. Scooters can go up to 12 mph, have lights for operation after dark, and are equipped with tracking technology. Shaker could opt out, in which case scooters would automatically slow down then cease functioning inside Shaker. Shaker could opt in, impose modified scooter regulations, and collect a royalty (15 cents per scooter that enters Shaker). Mr. Gruber explained current ordinances need to be reviewed to see whether they already cover each type of scooter, whether helmets would be required, and whether scooters need to operate on streets or sidewalks. Mr. Cameron proposes a public event so residents can see and try scooters and learn about safety features.

Grant Application for South Woodland/Warrensville Center Road Intersection. Ms. Klavora sought approval from the committee for a $200,000 grant application to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency in order to refine and implement changes to vehicle and pedestrian patterns at this intersection. A 2018 consultant study looked at possibly “reducing side street movements” such as restricting access from Somerset, additional left-turn lanes, and clearer pedestrian walkways.

Action: Approved, referred to Finance and Administration Committee and City Council.

Prisoner Housing Services Contract with Solon. Chief DeMuth sought approval to renew a contract with Solon through 2021 to house Shaker’s jail population. Since 2015 Shaker has been housing its prisoners at the Solon jail for several reasons, including the fact that Shaker’s facility design is outmoded and subject to potential litigation, and that over two years Shaker saves $528,000 in costs and staff time administering its own jail. The only other outsource option at this time is Cuyahoga County Jail. A neighbor community may be interestied in collaborating on a new facility with Shaker, but that is only a preliminary inquiry at this time. Chief DeMuth said Solon (not a private operator) administers its jail, described medical services Solon provides, and indicated satisfaction with “the product we get from them.”

Action: Approved, referred to Finance and Administration Committee and City Council.

Waiving of Competitive Bidding for Temporary Shoring of Transfer Station. Director Speese explained that the Service Center Transfer Station (built in 1970, rehabilitated in the 1990s) needed emergency repairs in 2017 to fix substantial cracks in the concrete floor. Shaker talked to six vendors, but only one was available to install temporary shoring at a rental of $11,400 per year. The city wants to leave the temporary shoring in place until full repairs are done—they are planned as part of the 2020 capital budget.

Action: Approved, referred to Council.

Deer Management, Culling Contract. Chief DeMuth sought approval of a contract with a company run by a former police officer to cull deer according to parameters from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. Ms. Williams chaired the Shaker Heights Deer Task Force that studied the impact of the overabundance of deer, with much community input. Ms. Williams, Mr. Brady, Ms. Moore, and Mr. Gruber all commented that a majority of citizens requested culling, and that residents from all over city wanted relief from deer overabundance. During the first two years of culling, two specially assigned police officers set trail cameras at bait sites on public land and “humanely harvested” a quota of 40 deer; venison was donated to the Cleveland/Akron Food Bank. Outsourcing the cull program to a retired Shaker officer would result in savings. This former officer has experience with hunting, knows Shaker well, and for safety uses a drone with infrared to spot deer as well as people. Discussion focused on the potential use of private property. Mr. Gruber said most communities culling allow hunting on private property, and some Shaker residents have requested it. There was discussion about non-residential versus residential properties, how to obtain consent from adjacent property owners, lot size, and the importance to hunters of using “high ground.” Mayor Weiss indicated he expects public review and comment.

Action: Approved, referred to Finance and Administration Committee and to City Council.

Additional information: https://www.shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09062019-322?html=true

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 9:15 a.m.

Annette Tucker Sutherland

City Council Work Session & Democracy Day Hearing, Sept. 9, 2019

October 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The meeting started at 7:07 p.m., and all council members were present. The first half of the meeting was dedicated to a Democracy Day public hearing. Introduction by Mayor David E. Weiss, followed by a statement from Shaker Heights resident Bruce Ente.

Introduction to Shaker Heights Democracy Day Hearing

Mr. Ente spoke on behalf of Shaker Heights Move to Amend and Cleveland East Move to Amend.

A summary of his statement: Democracy Day had its origins in 2015 with a group of Shaker Heights residents who shared two grievances: first, that campaign contributions—large, growing and often secretive sums of money—are corrupting our political process and undermining our representative democracy; and second, that the assumption of human rights by corporations, aided and abetted by Supreme Court decisions over the past 160 years, has granted Constitutional rights to business entities, which our country’s founders never intended. Shaker Heights voters passed a citizens’ initiative referendum in November 2016 by an overwhelming 81 percent—the largest margin of any community in Ohio to this day. The national Move to Amend objective is passage of a 28th constitutional amendment to redress these grievances by establishing that money is not speech and can therefore be regulated in politics, and that corporations are not people protected by the inalienable human rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

The Move to Amend agenda is often identified as “We the People,” the first three iconic words of the Declaration of Independence. This emphasizes that via a grassroots, small “d” democratic peoples’ movement, the group intends to remedy a fundamental power imbalance in our country. Specifically, MTA supporters reject the privileges and control that the wealthiest Americans, special-interest lobbyists, and corporate entities exercise over the lives and best interests of “we the people.” This imbalance must change if the highest ideals of our democracy are to survive.

This was followed by other citizens’ thoughts on democracy, global warming, the eroding right to Home Rule, bond reform, gun safety and (by Lori Shepherd, a junior at Shaker Heights High School), general school lockdowns. There was a full chamber, with students from Shaker Heights High School observing as well. This part of the meeting ended at 8:20 p.m.

The Joint Council Work Session with the Finance and Administration Committee followed at 8:30 p.m. The proposed 2020 Budget was reviewed. Presently the city is short $2 million for 2020. Ways of making up that shortage are being considered and will be decided upon by the end of the year.

There was a discussion of a proposed sewer fee for residents of $10/month to pay for capital i

The meeting finished at 10 p.m.

Stevie Robinson

Library Board of Trustees, Sept. 16, 2019

October 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board members Gleisser, Bertsch, Meinhard, Rashid, Katz, Cicarella; Director Amy Switzer; other library staff.

The meeting began at 6:36 p.m. with approval of minutes of the August meeting, followed by the fiscal officer’s report. The state public library fund (PLF) revenues were up slightly from 2018; revenue overall was above budgeted amount and expenditures were on target. The Cleveland Foundation Shaker Heights Library fund stands above $150,000, with $29,000 available for distribution. The Board has no plans at present for fund expenditures. It approved the financial statement.

Ms. Switzer described the school kick-off event that gathered 67 participants from many sectors of the community (public and private schools, youth center, churches, others) to establish lines of communication and prepare for resumption of classes. She reported on the summer reading program and noted the appearance scheduled for Oct. 15 of author Susan Orlean. Also mentioned was the upcoming U.S. census. Census officials have been contacting local libraries to help in publicizing the many part-time positions that will be available and also in outreach avenues for hard-to-reach segments of the population. More information is available online at 2020census.gov/jobs.

A schematic diagram of the library renovation project was distributed. Architects will present a conceptual design at the November board meeting. The board approved the expenditure of $20,825 for planning to include the Bertram Woods branch, which would be Phase 2 of the project. There was considerable discussion about a range of renovation project matters, including how to deal with collaborative conversations with city and school personnel.

At the request of the director, the board approved a letter of remonstration to MacMillan publishers, who propose to institute a new policy that restricts release of eBooks to one per library. The board also directed Ms. Switzer to write a strongly worded response objecting to such a policy. Libraries and library organizations throughout the country are reacting similarly.

Gifts were accepted and allocated; personnel action reported.

The board authorized its president, Brian Gleisser, to enter into a contract extension for Ms. Switzer to 2023, and the meeting went into executive session at 8 p.m.

Finance Committee, Aug. 19, 2019

September 4th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Linda Lalley, Martin Kolb, Anthony Moore

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Acting Interim Director of Finance Frank Brichacek, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Director of Planning Joyce Braverman, Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis, Auditor Chad Gorfido from Rea & Associates CPAs.

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:32 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the June 17, 2019 (corrected), and July 15, 2019, Finance Committee meetings for approval. The minutes from both meetings were approved without comment.
  2. Ms. Braverman presented a recommendation to authorize entering into a contract with RMS Investments for $44,559 for an additional year of the Clean and Safe Program for the Van Aken District (VAD). The funds are available in the Economic Development budget to pay the city’s share of the program cost.

Anthony Moore asked what the impact would be of University Hospitals Health Systems not participating in the next contract. Ms. Braverman replied that the contract presented to City Council would be adjusted to account for UHHS withdrawal. Mr. Malone asked if Rite Aid was a participant. Ms. Braverman replied that Rite Aid was not a participant, but the sidewalks throughout VAD are patrolled to remove trash and control panhandling. Mr. Malone said that at the Lee Road Corridor merchants meeting last week, participants inquired if the city would establish something similar for that district. Ms. Braverman replied that something similar for Lee Road was being investigated for feasibility in 2020. Ms. Lalley remarked that the program was excellent, the cleanliness and presence of security was very effective. Mr. Williams added that panhandling seems to be the dominant issue regarding security, perhaps due to the confluence of bus and train stops, and he was appreciative of the program. Mr. Kolb remarked that his children were visiting recently from out of state and raved about VAD cleanliness and safety. The recommendation was approved.

  • Neighborhood Revitalization Director Kamla Lewis presented a recommendation to approve an application from Sharee and Douglass Thornton, 3639 Avalon Road, in acquiring the city-owned vacant lot at 3643 Avalon Road in order to use it as a side lot. The city would save $650 per year for upkeep and increase the value of the Thornton’s property by approximately $20,000. The Neighborhood Revitalization & Development (NRD) Committee considered the application at their Aug. 14 meeting and unanimously approved recommending it to Council. The recommendation was approved.
  • Mr. Braverman presented a review of the Shaker Heights Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC) annual meeting on July 23, 2019. The TIRC is charged with reviewing current tax incentive agreements on an annual basis and ensuring transparency and accountability on the part of the city and developer in the management of each of the agreements. The meeting and activities of this state-mandated body are controlled by the Ohio Revised Code and City Ordinance. Ms. Braverman recommended that the Finance and Administration Committee approve a recommendation to City Council to approve the TIRC’s recommendations.

Mr. Williams wished to confirm that the results would have no impact to income taxes. Ms. Braverman confirmed that. Ms. Lalley wanted to know what would happen to the businesses’ taxes if the tax incentives were not continued. Ms. Braverman said the businesses’ taxes would revert to regular taxation. Ms. Lalley asked the status of the Southern Moreland Community Reinvestment Area (CRA). Ms. Braverman said there were no activities in this CRA during the past year. Mr. Malone asked if urban renewal payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) were performing better than in the past years. Ms. Braverman said yes, and that the city was providing less tax abatement than in the past. The recommendation was approved.

  • Auditor Chad Gorfido, from Rea & Associates CPAs, presented the Independent Auditor’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting, Report on Compliance and Other Matters Based on an Audit of Financial Statements Performed in Accordance with Government Auditing Standards, Report on Compliance for Each Major Federal Program, Report on Internal Control over Compliance, and Report on the Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards Required by the Uniform Guidance. The independent audit found that the city had no material weaknesses in internal control and no significant deficiencies in internal control, and said there were no reportable findings. Mr. Gorfido remarked that Shaker Heights was one of the few municipalities that did not receive a “concerns” letter from Rea & Associates management, which is a compliment to the city’s clean accounting.

Ms. Lalley asked if there were any pronouncements that the city should prepare for. Mr. Gorfido replied that in about two-three years, all leases will be required to be reported, both operating leases and capital leases. Ms. Lalley continued by asking if any of these future changes might be an issue for the city. Mr. Gorfido answered that he was not aware of any that would affect the city.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:15 am.

Frank Goforth

Board of Education, Aug. 16, 2019

September 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

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

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

The board approved the minutes of the meetings held in July. Public comments included an address to the school board from high school teacher Jody Podl and support for Ms. Podl by Craig Martahus; a thank you to the board for his education from 2019 graduate Christos Ioannou; a request from Sara Schiavoni to access raw data from the strategic metrics; a review of protocol in moving forward from a Woodbury 6th-grade camp incident from Brooke Bribiesco; and comments from Vicki Elder on policy work.

Dr. Glasner recognized the following:

  • Shaker Athletics: HS varsity boys soccer team was the Gold Division champs at the Adidas National Soccer Showcase in Strongsville last mouth. The Raider cheerleaders received multiple team and individual awards at an AmeriCheer camp last month. Ezra Dykema, sophomore, competed at the AAU Diving National Championships last month and placed in the top 10 in three categories. Varsity Football Coach Alex Nicholson planned a fundraiser for the team with the first Shaker Heights Raider Football Legacy Night, which raised $2,000 and engaged alumni players and families.
  • Twenty-two of the incoming freshmen completed the five-week Summer Academy, which helps students prepare for transition to the high school by offering academic support and enrichment opportunities.
  • Seven Shaker Heights High School students and Latin/Greek teacher Nora Murphy traveled to the 2019 National Junior Classical League Convention.
  • The 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame class comprises eight men and women who have made significant contributions to the field of health, law, government, arts, and athletics. The class will be introduced at an assembly on Oct. 11 and honored at a dinner and induction ceremony on Oct. 12. See www.shaker.org for more details.
  • Woodbury School’s new makerspace will be ready for students this school year thanks to funds from the Shaker Schools Foundation’s Innovation Fund. The space will contain small robotics and circuitry sets that can be checked out to classrooms, and students can use the space during lunchtime, recess, and after school.
  • The high school hosted a presentation by Positive Engagement Encouraging Resiliency in Shaker Students (PEERS) participants. Eleven PEERS students participating in a six-week summer program researched and answered questions over mental health and school-related stressors.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Grosse gave an update on facilities, capital projects, and Fernway construction: Masonry restoration, including waterproofing and other foundation work, will be completed by Aug. 21 at Boulevard, Lomond, Mercer, Woodbury, and the Middle School; Updates to fire alarm and security systems will be completed by Aug. 16; the High School north parking lot will be resurfaced and done by Aug.19; roof repairs at Lomond will be finished by the start of school and repairs to the high school roof will be worked on after school hours. Mr. Grosse thanked all the custodial and maintenance crews for getting the school buildings ready for opening. At Fernway, demolition on the south elevation and masonry walls continues and footers for the new addition will be coming in now on the cleared land. Interior walls for the auditorium were beginning to be built.

Director of Student Data and Accountability, Dr. Chris Rateno, and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Marla Robinson, updated the board on 2019 Strategic Plan Metrics, which led to a more in-depth discussion with questions from board members. Dr. Rateno gave the highlights of the Strategic Plan Metric report, which reviews multiple milestone events over multiple years. Reading trends have improved in third grade, with an 80 percent passage rate. However, Ms. Hardaway said that even though the math test scores achievement gap has closed somewhat, the gap in sixth-grade test scores show that only 29 percent  of black students are proficient – which is unacceptable.

Discipline data from the Progress Book was reviewed: The number of suspensions in some schools increased in the 2018-19 school year, possibly due to the increased influence of social media with even younger students, unique situations from the school year, and the need for more social and emotional support for some students. Action steps to take so students feel safe to maximize learning: implementation of Caring School Communities in pre-K – eighth grade; use a multi-tiered system of supports with positive intervention; add a school counselor at Woodbury; and do ongoing monitoring of student discipline data. The district is looking at what strategies are working in some of the buildings to cull best practices and possibly using professional learning for staff to effectively input discipline incidents to the Progress Book. Strategic planning has led to new curriculum with a whole-child approach, with more focus on the social and emotional needs of students and on learning about and reacting to institutional barriers to achievement. There is also more recognition of how outside traumas to families affect the educational success of students – including the availability of the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) assessment and other learning tools. 

All personnel updates and changes were approved. 

The following business items were approved: change order with Dial Electric for HS life safety & IT room renovation; resolution to accept the agreement for the leasing and serving of copier equipment with Meritech, Inc. (lower cost option); school bus stops for the 2019-20 school year in accordance with the Ohio Administrative Code (note the availability of a new bus GPS app for parents to be able to see where their student’s bus is); resolution to initiate the sale of certain board property to clear out unused or outdated items in the warehouse using an online auction to the community—the auction will span Sept. 1-11 with pick up on Sept. 13.

The board approved the combining of two part-time security positions to create one full-time position within OAPSE Local 152.

The board approved the language of Mr. Christman’s five-year employment contract through July 31, 2024.

The treasurer’s report for June: Real estate tax revenue received YTD this year was $6.8 million, or 9.3 percent less than last year due primarily to a timing difference in advance amounts paid out by the county in early 2018 (because of accelerated tax payments in advance of the Jan. 1, 2018, federal income tax law changes limiting state and local tax deductions). The reduced collections include $433,058 less in delinquent tax collections during the first half of 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018. Also included in the YTD tax receipts was the first Shaker Plaza TIF payment, totaling $386,036. Investment earnings are $0.4 million or 45.2% more than last fiscal year-to-date. Other local revenues are $1.7 million, or 47.5 percent less than the prior year, due primarily to the non-recurring receipt last fiscal year of the $1.8 million reimbursement for the Middle School roof project from the bond issuance fund. The district received approximately the same State Foundation funding in Fiscal 2019 as in Fiscal 2018 due to being on the “guarantee” funding method. There is a $350,000 favorable budget variance of revenues vs. expenditures.

Additional comments by Mr. Christman included: 97.2 percent of the district’s funding is raised locally via taxes; state and federal funding is minimal. The state’s budget included new student wraparound services funded at $675 million to be distributed among 600 school districts; but it also included a decline in state grants and changes to and educational choice funding.

Dr. Glasner reported the following: he attended and addressed the IB Global Conference in New Orleans; the nation of South Korea has signed an MOU with IB to commit to the IB framework – due to their visitors’ positive experience in the district; IB has eliminated its $172 candidate fees, which speaks to the equity of the IB program; he attended the Buckeye Association of School Administrators New Superintendents conference in Columbus and a meeting with the First Ring Suburbs consortium, where he will serve on the advocacy committee. He also reported that the Superintendent’s Transition Team will hold its second meeting Aug. 27 and will have an update for the September board meeting. He also highlighted the appointment of George Clark, formerly an assistant principal at the high school as interim principal at Lomond, and Tiffany Joseph as a new assistant at the high school.

The board remarked on the successful back-to-school barbeque. The next school board meeting will be held on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. in the high school small auditorium.

The board adjourned the public session at 8:35 p.m.

Holly Wang

Library Board of Trustees, Aug. 19, 2019

September 3rd, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Present: Board members Bertsch, Gleisser, Katz, Meinhard, Rashid; Library Director Switzer and other library staff. Also representatives of Bialosky architects. No other community members were present.

The meeting was called to order at 6:36 p.m. and minutes of previous meetings approved.

The financial statement was presented and approved. Expenditures are slightly below budget, year to date, and revenues are slightly above estimates. New software has been installed to track finances and the switch to the new system is nearly complete.

Ms. Switzer reported that Recovery Resources will be offering confidential HIV testing at the library, and there was some discussion among board members about measures to ensure no liability for the library in such matters. She also noted that the Contractor at Risk contract has been signed and the facility assessment (part of the renovation project) has preliminary results. Areas for additional evaluation have been identified and will be carried out with no additional cost (this had been anticipated in the original assessment section of the contract). Sprint, which has a cellular service tower and related equipment at Main, has some responsibility for chimney and water incursion damage and has been cooperative in initial interactions. Needs for and avenues available for communication with the mayor and city officials were discussed.

Bialosky representatives presented, briefly, the results of outreach measures about the renovation project. Nearly 900 survey responses were received and over 180 people attended open house sessions. One result that caused mild surprise is that around 40% of respondents said they sometimes walked to the library – a figure that was higher than expected. Further sessions will be held at the high school and middle school. Ms. Katz expressed the belief that involvement of board members would be desirable and there was discussion about useful formats for feedback from the public and also from public bodies.

In further business, the board approved library policy revisions concerning recording in the library and staff leaves of absence. They also approved a new fine-free circulation policy and one for clearing existing fines. Second quarter library usage data was presented (little change) and gifts accepted and allocated. After recounting some personnel changes, the board went into executive session at 8:25 pm.

Sustainability Committee, July 11, 2019

August 20th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

The agenda for the meeting is available here: https://shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07112019-292?html=true

The audio for the meeting is available here: https://shakeronline.com/DocumentCenter/View/2161/Sus071119

Members Present: Council member and chair Julianna Johnston Senturia; Council members Sean Malone and Anne Williams; citizen members Julianne Potter, Carmen Franks, and Norman Robbins

Others present: Mayor David Weiss; Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin; Sustainability Coordinator Michael Peters; Daniel Brown and Zoe Apestar of Rust Belt Riders

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:31 a.m. and adjourned at 8:28 a.m.

The minutes of the June 13, 2019, committee meeting were approved and are available here: https://shakeronline.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_06132019-279

Rust Belt Riders: Two representatives of Rust Belt Riders (RBR), Daniel Brown and Zoe Apestar, spoke about their program and the potential for a partnership with the city. Rust Belt Riders is a composting program that provides composting service to around 150 companies in Northeast Ohio. They are thinking about launching a residential program to regularly collect residents’ compost (but also has drop-off locations), which is then transformed into soil that one can buy at a discounted price. At the Nature Center, RBR put out bins where residents could drop off their compost, and 35 people had used it in the past month. Mr. Peters explained that commercial composting can take products that residents cannot compost on their own. If RBR partnered with the city, residents would receive buckets to put their compost in, and the buckets are picked up and replaced once a week at the expected cost of $20/month. It will cost likely $5 for residents to use the drop-off locations. It is also possible that the city would subsidize the program if it is shown to reduce the amount of waste the city would otherwise have to handle.

Subcommittees: Mr. Peters expressed his desire for the subcommittees to regularly report on their matters. Most subcommittees had not met yet. The Renewable Energy committee, led by Norman Robbins, discussed with the school system their interest in the country’s solar panel program. The school system explained that they have a lot on their plate this year, and may not focus on solar panels.

Streetlights: Mr. Peters explained that over 60[MG1]  percent of the city’s energy is used in streetlights, and that a vendor could collect data on this energy usage. In order to decrease energy usage, cities like Lakewood are retrofitting their streetlights with LED lights, while others are updating the entire fixture to provide capabilities like dimming, motion sensors, cameras, and gun-shot detection. The payback period for replacing the bulb would be two years.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles: Mr. Peters introduced an idle management option for city vehicles, the payback period for police vehicles being four months; he also mentioned a potential study to determine which vehicles would be easily replaced with electric vehicles. The city’s Green Team was formed (first meeting, July 14).

Solar Power: Mr. Peters explained that applications were prepared for the initial analysis of two city-owned buildings to determine their suitability for the County’s Local Government and Non-Profit Solar Co-op Program.

LEED for Cities: Data collection for the LEED program is ongoing, mainly because the city is waiting on other companies for data. Seven city staff members will form the LEED Advisory Team to advise the city on which areas of sustainability it should focus most on. After the U.S. Green Building Council’s ARC platform updated the point system for smaller cities, Shaker Heights gained 16 additional points (towards the goal of 40).

Ryan Brady, observer


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Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission, July 2, 2019

August 20th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members present: Rob Zimmerman, City Council; committee members John Boyle, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, Joanna Ganning

Others present: Joyce Braverman, Director of Planning; Dan Feinstein, Senior Planner; William Gruber, Director of Law

Mr. Zimmerman called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. The agenda for this meeting and supporting documents may be found here.

The minutes of the June 4, 2019, meeting were approved.

BOARD OF ZONING APPEALS

Gagliano/Slater Residence – 3161 Huntington Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Homeowners Keith Slater and Gregory Gagliano requested a variance to replace an existing wood picket fence with an aluminum ornamental fence on this corner lot, all 5 feet tall. The existing fence was granted a variance in 1992 to the 3-foot height standard, with one section at 4 feet and one at 5 feet. The owners cited need for a higher fence for uniformity of height, noting that all the fencing will continue to be hidden by current shrubbery. There were no public comments. The variance was unanimously approved.

Dewey Residence – 18301 South Woodland Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Homeowner Christopher Dewey requested a variance to install a 4-foot fence 16 feet in front of the house and 53 feet off the South Woodland Road sidewalk. Code requires that fences be no more than 3 feet high and those located in corner side yards not extend in front of the setback line of the principal building on the adjacent lot, in this case 70 feet 3 inches. The owners stated that the fence would connect to an existing fence on the side property line, was needed to enclose an existing gazebo, and would be screened with existing and new shrubbery. There were no public comments. The variance was approved unanimously.

Tapas Restaurant/Lounge/Bar – 16704 Chagrin Blvd.

Supporting documents may be found here.

Kenneth Gibson, operator of the business, requested a variance to the parking requirements. The staff recommends a continuance because of other issues with the planned building and business: the floor plan doesn’t match the partially constructed space; the seating number does not match the plans; there is no information on peak parking demands; a Conditional Use Permit for a wine bar hasn’t been applied for. Mr. Gibson stated that he had received a building permit in January and understood that he ha filed all the paperwork required for a Conditional Use Permit after meeting with Mr. Feinstein. He said a lot of time has been wasted while the issues are getting straightened out, wondering if things could be expedited. Mr. Feinstein responded that there had been confusion over the Conditional Use and Building permit applications, and the Building permit shouldn’t have been issued.  However, the process needed to be properly followed now.

There were no public comments.

Ms. Ganning noted that more information was required on parking use, and Mr. Gibson shared that information. Mr. Boyle asked if a liquor permit had been obtained, and Mr. Gibson replied that it had. Mr. Boyle asked for an explanation in the changes in the floor plans and seat count, which Mr. Gibson provided. Mr. Boyle noted that there would seem to be no problem with the parking variance, however the Conditional Use permit application would be needed to do that. Mr. Feinstein added that the staff wants to have both done at once. Ms. Ganning wondered if the city should seek comments from other businesses in the area. 

There will be a continuance on the appeal.

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION

Cleveland Skating Club – 2500 Kemper Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Matthew Wymer, WXZ Development Inc., representing the Cleveland Skating Club, requested re-subdivision of the Club’s land in order to create a parcel fronting on Fairhill Road that meets the minimum size and frontage required in the A Apartment zoning district. Mr. Wymer and Mr. Young of WXZ explained that the plan is to create nine units of apartments for older Shaker residents.

In public comments, Bob Zimmer, Shaker resident and Keller Williams real estate agent, said that this is an important project to give seniors an option to downsize into a Shaker Heights property for easier living.

The request was unanimously approved.

Process Canine Training Center – 3700 Lee Road

Supporting documents may be found here.

Amanda Corr, business owner, requested a Conditional Use Permit to operate a dog training center at an indoor space at the former Quality Security Door property. The applicant proposes to train dogs in the interior space only and utilize the existing parking at their nearby dog day-care business. One to three staff will train dogs inside the space, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The dogs in training will already be enrolled in the dog day-care facility.

Ms. Carr said that the day-care business had seen much success since opening two years ago, and that there is interest in training. She confirmed that only training will be offered at this site. She also confirmed that they had held an open house for the neighborhood to become acquainted with the business and upcoming proposal; it was lightly attended. She also said they had received their first noise and nuisance complaint the day of this hearing. It was reported that there is much barking very early in the morning and there is debris in the back of the business’s lot adjoining a homeowner’s backyard. She reported they are changing morning procedures immediately. She is looking into the nuisance complaint since she is not the business property owner. Mr. Feinstein added that he had checked with the SHPD and confirmed that these were the first complaints against the business.

In public comment, Donald Degley, 3717 Sudbury, said he lives in the house that backs on Process Canine. He explained that while he had visited his parents at this home often, he had recently been there more often because the home was left to him by his mother. He wanted to familiarize himself with the approval process and shared that he was the person who made the complaint to the SHPD. He asked what kind of training would be provided. Ms. Corr responded that it would not be behavior modification for “bad” dogs, just basic obedience. Mr. Degley asked who will be responsible for the parking lot. Ms. Corr replied that the building owner would be, but that the lease is not finalized. Mr. Degley asked why did they choose this property and not an empty space closer to their original facility. More space, was Ms. Corr’s response.

The Conditional Use Permit was unanimously approved. It now goes to City Council for its approval.

Lynn Lilly, observer