Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 9-3-2020
SEPTEMBER 3, 2020
- Public comments and board response
- Recognition of technology coaches and facilitators
- Enrollment in remote learning platforms
- Ohio Senate Bill 358
- 21st Century grant award
- AP program participation
- Ohio School Board Presidents meeting
Board President Jodi Sourini and board members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Beverly Wright were present for a virtual meeting. Also attending were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. After an executive session, the public meeting began at 7:45 p.m. and ended at 8:52 p.m.
Public comments and board response
Milliken property sale: Two community members expressed opposition to the sale of the Milliken property, emphasizing that selling it would not advocate for environmental justice, that the land was promised to be maintained as a buffer, in perpetuity, when Severance Shopping Center was built, and that “this is our treasure.”
Intra-district transfer policy: Lindsay Means requested that the intra-district transfer policy for students with special needs be revised to be less cumbersome. She said the window of time for obtaining a transfer is narrow and the process confusing.
Concerns about board actions: Charles Drake stated the board ignored complaints regarding mismanagement of funds in 1) refusing to request a performance audit, 2) selling public property at a great discount, and 3) being ineffective during contract negotiations with district teachers.
Tiger Nations for Strong Schools: Krissy Gallagher spoke as a representative of Tiger Nations for Strong Schools and as a school levy supporter. She praised Reaching Heights for volunteering to tutor students. She commended district teachers for their “flexibility, creativity, and compassion” in providing new modes of instruction to the students. She also thanked the superintendent and treasurer for their excellent work.
Chromebooks: Robin Collins, a special education aide in the district, described her frustration in using Chromebooks vs. approved personal devices. Because approved personal devices are not tracked, they cannot be used because time spent working or at in-service cannot be credited. Ms. Collins requested a special meeting with the human resources department.
Board response: President Sourini said the board would only consider proposals for Milliken that provide a revenue path for the district. Because the board’s current focus is a safe and successful educational program, she recommended that the issue be tabled for now; board members agreed. The district is still using the Milliken property and it continues to be viable for district use. Mr. Heintz said that the board has a responsibility to be good stewards of the property.
Mr. Heintz also addressed an inappropriate remark that one of the individuals making a public comment had said; he stated that such language was unacceptable for any presenter at a school board meeting. He also praised Ms. Gallagher for her work for the schools, volunteer work, and advocacy for the students and district.
Recognition of technology coaches and facilitators
Superintendent Kirby recognized technology coaches and Christina Bauer, coordinator of technology, for their work to ready the district for online education during the Covid-19 pandemic. She also recognized Virtual Cafe facilitators and the professional development facilitators who helped ensure that professional development ran smoothly. She gave special thanks to Educational Services and also welcomed new staff members.
Enrollment in remote learning platforms
Superintendent Kirby emphasized that the focus is always on the students. Currently, nearly 5,000 students are enrolled remotely, and some students are being homeschooled. Registration is still occurring.
Ohio Senate Bill 358
Superintendent Kirby testified in the state legislature regarding SB358 and also presented the district’s experience with EdChoice. SB358 freezes district evaluation report cards during the Covid-19 pandemic, which Superintendent Kirby supports; she also calls for a freeze on the requirement that districts continue to pay for EdChoice scholarships. As of September 3, the district has received 1,814 EdChoice requests, which represents about $9 million in funding.
21st Century grant award
The district received an $850,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, which will support afterschool enrichment programs for the next five years.
AP program participation
Advanced Placement (AP) participation increased to 58 percent of students. The district has 52 AP scholars [an award conferred by the College Board based on AP test scores], and AP scores are up even though students took the tests in the spring when they were working remotely. She praised AP teachers for working hard to assist students. Mr. Heintz stated that the district has an expectation that all students enrolled in an AP course will take AP tests, which not all districts require.
Ohio School Board Presidents meeting
President Sourini attended the Northeast Ohio School Board Presidents Meeting and the EdChoice steering committee meeting with the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA). She asked the board to appoint a delegate to the OSBA Capital Conference, which will be held virtually on Oct. 29. The board nominated and approved Malia Lewis as delegate and Beverly Wright as alternate to represent the district.
The next meeting will be held virtually, Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. 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: Rosemarie Fairman.