LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights [online 5-3-2016]

MAY 3, 2016

  • Recognitions
  • Public address
  • Strategic plan for technology
  • Staff reduction
  • Field trip
  • Change orders
  • Lease agreement
  • Donations
  • Losses in state funding
  • Pre K


All board members were present.

Recognitions

Special Olympics: Superintendent Talisa Dixon introduced students and coaches in the Special Olympics program. Amy Kerr-Jung of Reaching Heights’ Exceptional Children’s Advocacy Group and Jeffrey Johnston, director of student services for the school district, spoke of the value of the program in the lives of the student athletes, as well as its value to the district.

Career Tech: Tyrin Smith was recognized as Career Tech student of the month.

Teacher tenure: Paul Lombardo, director of human resources, introduced and congratulated 13 teachers and support staff receiving tenure this year.

Public address

Oxford Community Garden: Steven Warner addressed the board about a science program he conducts at the Oxford Community Garden that involves Oxford Elementary School first graders, through the raising of worms. He is seeking external support to keep the program going after its one-year grant runs out. First graders Deonte Reed and Tavonte Evans provided hearty testimony. Lisa Bray of Oxford Elementary’s PTA read a letter from Heights Community Congress pledging support. Oxford Community Garden participant Tom Gibson noted that the garden is designed to bring students and the community together, and Allen Wilkinson stated that such experiential education enforces non-verbal learning.

Strategic plan for technology

Goal five of the district’s strategic plan addresses finance, technology and facilities. The district plans to hire an energy coach to educate staff in reducing consumption. After piloting various devices, Google Chromebooks are now being used in all elementary school buildings.

Staff reduction

Of the 52 positions cut in April, 12 have been reinstated and two have been added, an English coach and a science coach, bringing overall staff reduction to 38.

Field trip

The board approved a Roxboro Middle School eighth grade trip to Williamsburg, Va. and Washington, D.C. from Nov. 9–11.

Change orders

The board considered several change orders for the high school renovation.

The first change order, for $280,470, covers added cost to fully restore the clock tower using original design documents. This would be offset by Cleveland Heights High School Alumni Association donations of $100,000, and possibly another large donation.

A change order for $84,492 is needed due to conditions of original steel requiring re-design and for additional landscaping required by the Cleveland Heights Architectural Board of Review and Board of Zoning Appeals. Board Member Eric Silverman asked for a list of change order costs necessitated by city requirements.

A change order for $244,414 dealt with soil conditions that could not accommodate the structures to be built around them, and with screen walls on the roof that were required by the city.

Another change order also has to do with soil that does not have the weight-bearing capability originally thought; some of it was used onsite for baseball fields but the rest has to be removed at a cost of $251,874.

The final change order for $20,888 was for tree site work and netting for the baseball batting area, both of which had been removed from the plan to reduce costs. However, $155,000 originally budgeted for moisture mitigation became available and, along with this change order, could cover the site work.

Contractors are already boring into the soil at Monticello and Roxboro middle schools to be sure that conditions are known before renovations begin there.

All change orders were approved for a total of $882,138, and discussion ensued. Steve Zannoni, senior project manager for the high school facilities project, explained that today’s construction standards require that contractors, engineers, designers, and an independent testing agent all approve all aspects of a project, which often results in additional work and cost. The need for multiple approvals means that by the time a change order is presented to the board, sometimes the work has already been done. To avoid this, Silverman and James Posch have begun meeting with contractors twice a week to keep information to the board more current.

Silverman requested a timeline showing when milestones in the project will be reached, and assurance that the building will be suited to curriculum and course scheduling needs. He also requested that some existing furniture be re-used rather than purchasing all new.

Lease agreement

The board gave approval to negotiate a one-year lease of space in the Coventry building to Artful for the purpose of displaying art and holding art classes.

Donations

Six donations were accepted including $163.19 to Boulevard Elementary School; $2,026.50 to Heights High; $313.81 to Noble Elementary School; $212.23 to Roxboro Elementary School; $250 to the Jason D. West Memorial Scholarship Fund; and $1,500 to the Parker Hannifin Corp. Scholarship Fund.

Losses in state funding

Board Member Ron Register has been researching state funding for public education, specifically the siphoning of funds from public schools to private, parochial and charter schools despite the state’s obligation to provide adequate and equitable funding for public education. He stated that the CH-UH City School District has lost $14.6 million to non-public schools in the past five years, and suggested invoicing the state for the losses, as have Berea, Twinsburg, and several other area school districts. He said this is appropriate board advocacy for its students, and proposed convening a meeting of eastside boards of education to mobilize against this problem. He asked the board for three actions: allowing him to draft a resolution to invoice the state for funds lost to community (charter) schools; collaborating with the Heights Coalition for Public Education regarding testing and school funding; and commissioning him to represent the district in working with other boards of education to address school funding and related concerns.

Silverman noted that much of the lost money is going to religious-based schools, which amounts to public support for religious institutions, a violation of separation of church and state. Posch noted that, as state money lost to community schools could only be replaced with property taxes, fewer school levies would be needed if state education funds were not supporting non-public schools. Board members concurred that Register should proceed with his proposals.

Pre K

Inner-ring suburban superintendents are making pre-kindergarten education a priority. Register and Board Member Beverly Wright participated in an Educational Services Center meeting and were impressed by the models offered on the “Ready, Set, Go” website used by Kettering schools. The county has budgeted funding for such initiatives. The board agreed to appoint a liaison to the suburban group.

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.

League of Women Voters

Observer Corps editor for the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland

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