Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights

MARCH 7, 2024 - regular meeting

  • Recognitions and awards
  • Board actions
  • New math curriculums
  • Superintendent’s comments 
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Board president’s report
  • Board comments 
  • Committee reports
  • Other agenda items

Present were Board President Jodi Sourini and members Gabe Crenshaw, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, and Phil Trimble. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting ran for one hour and 45 minutes.

Recognitions and awards

Two students scored exceptionally high on a middle school American Mathematics Competition: Spencer Zhang (first place) and Cavan Bruce (second place).

The board awarded certificates of appreciation for Tiger Team members from each school for outstanding contribution in the month of February.

High school students Sheridan Sweeney and Alexis Walton reported on sports activities and upcoming events at the high school, and increased opportunities for students in the CTE (Career tech) program to intern and earn income during the summer.

Board actions

The board approved the filing of tax assessment complaints against three commercial properties WE Capital, High Top, and Fairmount Portfolio. The action will begin with notices to the property owners and an opportunity for each to attend a board meeting to discuss the board’s concerns.

After a debate, the board approved a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement in connection with the development of city-owned property on Taylor Road, known as Taylor Tudor. Phil Trimble voted no saying he did not want to agree to any tax abatement or deferment.

The board authorized required third grade testing for 2024–25 in paper format. Students needing accommodation may test online.

The board approved a consent agenda which included personnel decisions, approval of purchase orders, and approval of student field trips to Columbus Ohio, Anaheim Cal., and Washington D.C. 

New math curriculums

Michael Jenkins, director of curriculum & instruction, and Joyce Bukovac, instructional specialist for math, presented investigations they conducted at the request of the board on the efficacy of the new math curriculums (called Into Math, Waggle, and Zearn) the schools have recommended for adoption and are currently piloting. They found that the curriculums improved test scores for students and that using one integrated curriculum from kindergarten level through Algebra facilitates transitions throughout grade levels. They further discussed the various curricular approaches for students with different needs. Teachers and students had favorable comments about the pilot program. Their recommendations for updated editions of materials for upper level math courses are from prior publishers where available.

Superintendent’s comments 

Ms. Kirby congratulated the Heights Indoor Track Team’s state championship.

Pre-school enrollment for 2024–25 is already full, with a waiting list for general and special education students. The board discussed the cost involved in adding another pre-school classroom and whether the district should prioritize some students over others. Both matters will require further investigation and discussion.

Kindergarten information nights are taking place at each school.

Post-graduation career night occurred Feb. 21 and helped graduates with FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), scholarship applications, resumes, and career opportunities. The Feb. 22 information night about the Tri-C dual degree program was well attended.

Feb. 24, the district held its inaugural Celebration of Black and Gold Excellence. March 1, the superintendent and students traveled to Columbus for the OSAL (Ohio Association of Student Leaders) state conference. Students participated in an election of student leaders; Ms. Kirby hoped some were inspired to become leaders themselves. March 5, the Heights Schools Foundation Night took place at the Cavaliers’ basketball game and was well attended.

Spring break will be March 25–29.

The board viewed a video showing the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and its success in improving behavior throughout the schools.

Polling teachers revealed their preference for conducting state testing on paper for the English language arts and digitally for third grade.

Treasurer’s report

Mr. Gainer explained the process for a school district to file a complaint against valuation for real property, which can occur only for commercial properties valued at above $500,000. 

He also explained the difference between tax abatement and a TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) which results in payments in lieu of taxes.

Mr. Gainer provided an MD&A (Management Discussion and Analysis) report (available online using CH-UH FYE 6/30/23 ACFR in a search engine), which provides a narrative overview and analysis of the basic financial statements.

Board president’s report

The board will post board members’ committee assignments on the board’s webpage. Ms. Sourini attended a Cleveland Heights City Council meeting and thanked them for approving funds for lifeguards to open the high school pool to the public. She encouraged everyone to attend the student art show at the Lee Road library from April 9 to March 3. She invited board members to join her to march at the University Heights Memorial Day parade.

Board comments 

Mr. Heintz noted that only public schools are required to provide financial transparency under the rules of the state of Ohio. He recommended that the board invite the boys’ track team to attend a board meeting to recognize their success.

Committee reports

Updates were given by the Equity Committee, Heights Athletic Boosters Committee, and the Heights School Foundation.

Ms. Lewis invited board members to join a team for the Reaching Heights spelling bee. She thanked Ms. Kirby for closing the school on April 8 for the eclipse.

Other agenda items

The senior class is doing a spring flower fundraiser through March 21.

The board received invitations to attend a Teachers’ Union anniversary celebration, a resolution from Senator Kent Smith in recognition of Public Schools Week, and a letter of appreciation for coach/teacher Sean Sullivan.

LWV Observer: Paula Goodwin.

Documents for all board meetings can be accessed from the Board of Education webpage: Go to “BoardDocs” in the menu; on BoardDocs go to “MEETINGS” in the top menu; click on “Agenda.” Board meetings are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel ( and recorded for later viewing.

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 12:08 PM, 03.28.2024