Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special meeting highlights 7-28-20
JULY 28, 2020
- Levy for the November ballot
- Performance audit and fringe benefits
- School reopening during the Covid pandemic
- CARES Act funds
After an executive session, the public meeting was called to order at 8:10 p.m. and was adjourned at approximately 9:45 p.m. The public meeting was conducted remotely, with each school board member, the treasurer, and the superintendent joining the meeting from their individual homes. Board President Jodi Sourini and members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch and Beverly Wright were present. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer.
Levy for the November ballot
The board passed a resolution to place a 4.8 mill continuing levy for current expenses on the November 3, 2020 ballot. This is the second of two resolutions required for the levy. Board members expressed their discomfort with placing a levy on the ballot during the Covid pandemic; however, given the financial challenges currently facing the district and the strong recommendation of the Lay Finance Committee, they concluded that it was not advisable to wait until 2021 to ask for a levy at higher millage. Should financial considerations change, the levy could be pulled from the ballot as late as early September.
Performance audit and fringe benefits
Responding to community residents’ suggestions for a performance audit and cuts in fringe benefits, Board Member Lewis discussed reasons not to proceed with a performance audit as these predictably recommend cuts to sports, arts, transportation, and other cuts that do not save much and are inconsistent with the district’s culture. Regarding fringe benefits, she explained that in collective bargaining negotiations, each party is legally required to bargain in good faith, i.e., the board members cannot commit beforehand to outcomes.
School reopening during the Covid pandemic
In presenting the updated opening plan, Superintendent Kirby pointed out that Cuyahoga County is currently at level three on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System, the next-to-highest ranking of COVID infection. Within the county, zip codes 44118 and 44121 are in the highest category, and 44106 is in the second highest category. At the time of this meeting, the Cleveland and Akron school districts had decided to open remotely, and the Ohio Education Association had recommended opening remotely. The Cleveland Heights Teachers Union has asked the district to hold classes remotely at least for the first several months of the 2020-2021 school year. The superintendent also discussed the need to continue to focus on equity to try to avoid disparities in outcomes during this public health disaster. Other members of the administrative team described the district’s preparedness for opening.
Following the presentation, board members discussed at some length the educational, social, and safety considerations, ultimately reaching consensus and voting to open the 2020-2021 school year remotely. The board requested that the superintendent and administrative staff develop an academic calendar to support this decision, including when to revisit possible implementation of different learning models.
CARES Act funds
Treasurer Gainer reported that an additional $312,000 in CARES Act funds were now available to the district to help with opening costs. Moreover, additional CARES Act funds will be available to both public and private schools through a competitive grant application process, with a required 50 percent match. These funds must be spent on improving online connectivity for students.
Virtual meetings are streamed directly on the district’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/CHUHSchools ) and recorded for later viewing. They can also be viewed at: https://stream.meet.google.com/stream/8f442366-4bbd-4160-aaeb-ece0f7ab6534.
LWV Observer: Kathy Petrey.