CH-UH Board of Education highlights of 4-14-2015 special meeting with the strategic planning committee

APRIL 14, 2015 

  • Purpose of meeting
  • Input from surveys and stakeholders
  • Hard data
  • Finances
  • Group discussions

All board members were present.

Purpose of meeting

Strategic planning team member Saroya Queen-Tabor explained that the purpose of the meeting was to determine “the will of the community . . . where we place value” through discussion of data collected through recent surveys and stakeholder meetings.

Input from surveys and stakeholders

Comments included:

  • The high number of staff and student responses compared to responses from community members at large;
  • The perception of inequity among the schools;
  • Teacher disappointment with professional development offered by the district;
  • Negative feelings toward the amount of testing required;
  • The fact that 80 percent of ninth graders who enter the high school graduate from the high school;
  • The low number of survey responses from students preparing for an occupation directly after high school;
  • Inaccurate perception of the district held by residents who send their children to non-public schools;
  • The decreasing participation in extracurricular activities;
  • Lack of enthusiasm for the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary enrollment options;
  • The “sameness” of dissatisfaction over time;
  • Parental desire for additional transportation;
  • Criticism of frequent changes and high number of programs initiated and discontinued;
  • Frequent changes in leadership;
  • Desire for schools to serve as centers for the community.

When asked what distinguishes the CH-UH school district, team member responses included:

  • The schools are much less diverse than the communities they serve;
  • High degree of parental and community involvement;
  • Desire for neighborhood schools;
  • High number of students in foster care (second only to Cleveland);
  • Sixty-three percent of graduates enroll in college right after high school, and 70 percent [do so] within a year of graduation.

Hard data

The district’s data show:

  • A decrease in student population at the high school;
  • A majority of students receive free and reduced-cost lunch;
  • The number of students with disabilities has increased 19 percent;
  • A large disparity between the student population and the community population;
  • Students taking advanced placement classes do not reflect the demographics of the student population.

There was discussion as to whether the strategic plan should focus only on the students currently enrolled or also try to appeal to students who could potentially enroll.

Superintendent Talisa Dixon stated that data inform but do not define. She said the district should not be satisfied until 100 percent of students graduate and 100 percent of students are proficient in reading and math. The strategic planning committee needs to determine what the district must provide in order to improve.

Finances

Scott Gainer, district treasurer, named factors that affect finances:

  • Most of the district’s revenue comes from local property tax levies;
  • State support to the district is low;
  • There is little industry within the district, so responsibility for funding the schools rests with residents;
  • State support is shifting away from public schools toward charter schools.

Group discussions

Team members divided into groups to discuss what they envision for the district. Group responses were shared and categorized for further discussion in later meetings. Categories included:

  • Mastery of and proficiency in academic skills
  • Culture of high expectations
  • Equity of opportunity across schools and across demographics
  • 100 percent graduation rate
  • Increased community support
  • Effective teacher development
  • Increased parental involvement
  • Progress on state report card

The team agreed that strategic plan components must be do-able and affordable, balance individual and group needs and benefits, cause no harm, and directly facilitate positive outcomes for students.

LWV Observer: Nancy Dietrich.

These meeting summaries are abstracted from LWV observers’ written reports. The summaries have been edited and prepared by Anne McFarland, Charlene Morse and Maryann Barnes. To receive e-mail postings of full reports, send an e-mail to mbarnes9515@gmail.com or join through Google groups using “lwv-chuh observer reports” as a search phrase.

These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

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Volume 8, Issue 6, Posted 11:11 AM, 05.31.2015