Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education work session highlights 10-20-2020

OCTOBER 20, 2020


  • Financial impact of EdChoice changes
  • School reopening update
  • Resolution to amend treasurer’s contract 


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. The meeting was called to order at approximately 7 p.m. and adjourned at approximately 9 p.m.

Financial impact of EdChoice changes

Sharon Rohler, the coordinator/systems analyst for the district’s education management information system,and Treasurer Gainer presented data regarding the financial impact on the district of recent changes in the EdChoice voucher program. These changes included increases in EdChoice enrollment and EdChoice deductions from the district’s basic state aid. That aid has been capped for the past two school years and was recently reduced because of the state’s COVID-related revenue losses. The presentation included data identifying the nonpublic schools receiving EdChoice vouchers at the district’s expense and data showing the contrast in demographics of EdChoice students compared to students attending the district public schools.

Regarding EdChoice, President Sourini said that the board is advocating for direct state funding of EdChoice vouchers because the deduction method of paying for EdChoice vouchers is not financially sustainable for either the affected districts or the private schools receiving the voucher payments. Pending state legislation addressing this issue includes [HB 358 and Sub. HB 305].

The board also discussed the status of potential litigation challenging the constitutionality of the EdChoice program on the basis that it increases district reliance on property taxes. Any such litigation would be filed jointly with about 40 other affected school districts. The district’s estimated share of the litigation expense is $10,000.

School reopening update

Felisha Gould, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Resources, presented current data on first quarter attendance, Chromebook distribution, and other aspects of reopening. A parent representative has been added to the Reopening Planning Committee.

Superintendent Kirby recommended starting the second quarter remotely based on recent increases in COVID rates in the county and discussions with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and other county school district superintendents.

The board unanimously approved the superintendent’s recommendation that the district continue remote learning through November 16, and possibly later, with certain special needs students receiving in-class instruction.

Board members expressed appreciation for the special education teachers, who are providing in class instruction to 67 intensive-need students, as well as all teachers and staff and parents. They agreed on the importance to the community of returning to in-class instruction but also said that parents should be given at least two weeks’ notice of any change. They applauded the use of the former Wiley School as a place where students can learn remotely. The Heights Schools Foundation provided funding assistance for that service.

Treasurer’s contract amendment

The consent agenda included approval of a resolution to amend the treasurer’s contract. Vice President Posch explained that the treasurer had requested that his contract be amended so that the changes in his fringe benefits will be effective on January 1, 2020, consistent with other district administrators. As of January 1, 2020, the fringe benefits will be the same for all administrators, teachers, and other employees. It was noted that board members receive no fringe benefits from the district.

Upcoming meetings include a special meeting Nov. 17, 7 p.m. Meetings are held virtually, streamed directly on the district’s YouTube channel, and recorded for later viewing. They can also be viewed here.

LWV Observer: Kathy Petrey.

Board meeting materials including the EdChoice presentation can be found through BoardDocs. Click on “BoardDocs” on the Board of Education's web page, then on the meeting date.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 12:05 PM, 11.30.2020