Malia Lewis candidate for CH-UH School Board
Cleveland Heights Age: 51
1. Education: MFA in Technical Design & Production, Yale School of Drama 1997; AB in English & American Literature, Harvard & Radcliffe Colleges 1987; International Baccalaureate, Ecole Active Bilingue, Paris France 1983
2. Occupation: landlord & property manager, Blue Real Estate LLC
3. Qualifications: Founding member of Early Childhood for the Heights Organization. • Two term treasurer of Fairfax PTA. • Two term treasurer of Roxboro Middle PTA. • Treasurer of HH PTA. Manager Heights Cross Country team.• Formed and chaired the Career and Technical Working Group (now Advocacy Group) for three and a half years. CTE WG researched state CTE regulations and then-current CH-UH practices, wrote a comprehensive CTE Improvement Plan, presented it to Administration and BOE, and have monitored its implementation since. Other: • Currently serving on the Board of Directors for Home Repair Resource Center and on the Program Committee. Also teach plaster repair classes at HRRC. • Involved for over 5 years with Fairmount Temple’s Congregational Based Community Organising project, which led to the creation of Greater Cleveland Congregations. • Joined the GCC Education team and participated in a GCC project to improve literacy and lunch-room climate at Anton Grdina Elementary in Cleveland for 2 years.
QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES:
1. Unique qualifications: No one on the Board has children currently in our schools. Both my children are in 11th grade at Heights High; and I have been active at every level of the District since they began pre-school at Milliken.As a theatre professional I learned strict adherence to schedules and timelines; tight budget & personnel management; union contract negotiations; and, especially, how to balance competing interests within limited resources and maintain a congenial work environment in stressful situations. I would bring all these skills to the CH-UH School Board. There are no easy solutions when it comes to issues of finances, testing, and accountability. I continually educate myself on national and state education policy and understand that local school boards can no longer focus solely on their own districts. CH-UH must work with other school boards in the region and Ohio to change the way legislators in Columbus have been undermining public education.
2. Top issues: Achievement Gap: Increase current efforts to improve equity of opportunity and support across the District. The achievement gap between African-American and white students has many components. The District has enacted initiatives in the past, but only recently has equity become a guiding principle with the District’s Strategic Plan. Internal & External Communication: Change external perceptions of our District by addressing achievement gap, and by providing alternatives to State Report Card to show successful educational outcomes. Reach out to large employers, preschools, real estate agents, and to families sending their children to charter, private, & parochial schools. District families & staff should be better informed about policy & personnel changes. PTAs should serve as conduits for information dissemination in all directions. Reach out to larger subsets of our population and to everyone when appropriate.State Funding: Change State policies which syphon off public tax money.
3. Budget overrun: Regardless of how the High School construction project was managed, we must celebrate the benefits to our community of such a gorgeous facility. Going forward, the Board & Administration must put the remaining bond money to best use. Both buildings need reliable, updated, & energy efficient mechanical systems in order to serve our children in the future. There will likely be fewer visible, esthetic improvements than originally envisioned for the middle schools; but those are less important than HVAC, electrical supply, and plumbing fixtures.Before starting the elementary school phase, we must revisit the assumptions and projections underlying our master facilities plan, including building grade configurations. Those were left off the table at the beginning of this process. After community input, the Board should make decisions for the greater good of the whole District. Now is the time best match infrastructure and academic structure to serve our existing and future student body.
4. Education policies: State Report Cards are reductivist. The Board can empower the District to rely less on standardised test for all evaluations, but only if there is strong community support. Public schools provide free and appropriate education to each child who walks in the door. For twenty years, charters have used public money for privately run schools which do not have to meet State standards the way public schools do. More recently, EDChoice vouchers have taken more and more of our State tax dollars to subsidise private education. This leaves public schools with an ever increasing budget gap which can only be made up through local real estate taxes. Public education is being undermined by this shift of public money away from the common good. I will continue current School Board members' work to counter this destructive trend by advocating with other school districts for changes to State policy—with regards to both testing and funding. We must prevent legislators from undermining public education.
League of Women Voters
The 2017 Voters Guide to Candidates and Issues is published as a public service by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, CH-UH and FutureHeights. The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to encourage the informed participation by citizens in government. FutureHeights is a nonprofit community development organization. Election Day is Nov. 7, 2017. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.