Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education special meeting highlights 8-4-2020

AUGUST 4, 2020


  • Community comments
  • Recognition of Farmers to Family
  • School reopening update
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Board comments and announcements


The public meeting was called to order at 7:29 p.m., after an executive session, and was adjourned at 8:35 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, Assistant Superintendent Felisha Gould, and Treasurer Scott Gainer. 

Public comment

Remote opening: A Canterbury Elementary teacher thanked the board for choosing to begin the school year virtually. She also requested the board to consider continuing remote learning until January 2021.

Cleveland Heights Teachers Union negotiations: A resident stated that negotiations with the union were not considering opinions of citizens in the district and questioned board members’ objectivity.

Levy committee: Krissy Gallagher, levy chair, announced that the committee working to support the upcoming school levy is now called “Tiger Nation for Strong Schools.”

Responding to public comments and statements containing misinformation, President Sourini encouraged community members to reach out to her or other board members for clarification regarding the board’s actions. She explained the difference between a performance audit and a financial audit. She also emphasized that this board has never proposed a double-digit levy. Her contact information is on the district website.

Recognition of Farmers to Family

The board recognized Farmers to Family as an exemplary community program that provided 450,000 pounds of produce and protein to neighborhood families. Over 30 volunteers assisted in produce distribution. Also, Yvonne Wallace distributed free books to students, and Draupadi Pradham provided special outreach to Nepali families at Noble Elementary School.

Technology Advisory Committee

The board appointed Mark Brown as a member to the University Heights Technology Advisory Committee.

Supplemental coaches

The board approved a letter of understanding and agreement between the board of education and supplemental coaches. Superintendent Kirby thanked Union 795 for the agreement. Mr. Posch clarified that this was an understanding with supplementals and is not a negotiated union contract. Ms. Lewis clarified that this letter of agreement allowed the board to avoid extra expense should there be a shutdown as in the spring of 2020.

Graduation requirements

The board approved Board Policy 5460, for graduation requirements, on third reading.

School reopening update

Superintendent Kirby updated school reopening plans, including the timeline, programs for family engagement during remote learning, and shared recommendations on continuing athletics. All decisions are made considering the Ohio Public Health Advisory System risk guidelines. She emphasized that decisions aligning policy with the equity program and the family engagement component will start next week. She will post a weekly update on the district website.

Assistant Superintendent Felisha Gould explained how the advisory system risk levels are aligned with the learning model the district will offer. The proposed timeframe for reviewing the alert system regarding whether to continue virtual instruction was presented to the elementary and secondary education committees, which have proposed that all learning be remote for the first nine weeks. The timeline allows for surveying of staff and parents and analyzing responses over these nine weeks so that the district can make decisions reassessing the learning models. The presentation can be viewed at


The district will follow the Cuyahoga County Board of Health recommendations for athletes’ safe return to play. The Ohio Department of Health issued an order outlining expectations for fall sports and Covid-19 testing protocol. Superintendent Kirby suggested that sports teams continue athletic training. Decisions on continued training and a return-to-play plan will be made after regularly assessing the board of health analysis of Covid-19 spread in the county. Currently, games are suspended until area districts meet regarding how to proceed with non-contact competitions.

President Sourini discussed parent and student concerns about sports participation. They wanted assurance that students would not be penalized for not actively participating and still have a place on the team when the situation changes. Ms. Sourini has an upcoming meeting with other local superintendents regarding their reopening and sports plans. She will share these at the August 18 board meeting. Superintendent Kirby clarified that athletic participation has many new controls and protocols in place for the new school year. She also said that the present situation is different from the spring shutdown and students will not be penalized. 

Mask requirements 

Superintendent Kirby said work is continuing on a mask policy that is in agreement with NEOLA guidelines. 

Family concerns and engagement 

Using the World Café style, virtual family cafes, organized according to specific areas of concern, will begin August 12. The final plan will be presented to the board by mid-August. [The World Café is an information technology platform that uses a simple, effective, and flexible format to host group dialogue to effect positive change.]

The district is exploring partnerships to assist families with childcare, organizations that provide safe places for students to study with their laptops, and state subsidies that may be available for families in need. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Ms. Kirby clarified the format of “My School Online” and how it differs from “Ohio School Online,” emphasizing that parents should be aware of their own child’s learning style when choosing a learning model. 

Treasurer’s report

Treasurer Gainer will present the complete five-year forecast the next board meeting. 

Board comments and announcements

Mr. Posch will report on the August 5 meeting of College Career Task Force at the next board meeting. He also requested that two topics be placed on the agenda for the next board meeting: discussion of an unexpected letter of intent from Cleveland Heights regarding Millikin and a busing update. 

Mr. Heintz commented on how well the baseball team is adhering to Covid protocols. He appreciates the work done to include athletics in the educational program.

Ms. Lewis announced that the Strategic Planning Committee will have statements to present regarding mission, vision and values.

Virtual meetings are streamed directly on the district’s YouTube channel ( and recorded for later viewing. They can also be viewed at:

LWV Observer: Rosemarie Fairman.

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