Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 9-8-2021
SEPTEMBER 8, 2021 – Regular Meeting
- Public comments
- Recognitions and awards
- Consent agenda
- Superintendent’s report
- Air conditioning
- 2026 Strategic Plan
- Treasurer’s report
- Wiley property
- Board comments
Present were Board President James Posch; members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright; Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby; and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting was two and one half hours.
Before public comments began, Mr. Posch read aloud the board policies reminding presenters of the five-minute time limit and the policy that restricts school facilities from being used to promote a political cause or candidacy.
Dorothy Moulthrop, CEO of Open Doors Academy (ODA), thanked the board for the opportunity to run a summer camp at Monticello Middle School, which served 490 students. ODA is an educational nonprofit that runs out-of-school academic and enrichment programs. Ms. Moulthrop said she looks forward to continuing the ODA partnership with CHUH Schools. An intern at ODA’s summer program expressed appreciation for the program and for providing him the opportunity of service.
Charles Drake, a resident and Heights High grad, questioned how residents benefit from the sale of Coventry School to Coventry Library and sales of other vacant properties owned by the School Board. He also complained about fringe benefits paid to administrators.
Melissa Wood accused the school board of a false narrative regarding negotiations with the teacher’s union. Wood stated the negotiations were not a success and that the school board should step down. When she spoke of a candidate running for school board, Mr. Posch asked her to comply with the policy not to present election issues.
A Heights High student said that community infighting and online misbehavior needs to end and objected to his school becoming a battleground for conflicting ideologies.
Resident Maureen Lynn stated her belief that public schools are essential for a community. She holds that CHUH is well-funded. She requested a state performance audit and called for transparent funding. When she spoke of a candidate running for school board, Mr. Posch asked her to comply with the policy not to present election issues.
Recognitions and awards
The meeting began with a video presentation of students from various CHUH schools performing “Rise Up” virtually. The video had been played during convocation.
Superintendent Kirby recognized the 28 AP (Advanced Placement) Scholars for spring 2021: 12 with Honors and eight with Distinction. The AP scholars who were present were asked to come on stage to receive a certificate.
The board approved a consent agenda, which contained an updated memorandum with Bellefaire School.
There was a first reading of Policies: Group A which includes: Student Hazing, Education Opportunity for Military Children, Eligibility of Resident/Nonresident Students, Disposition of Real Property/Personal Property, and Attendance. No action is required now.
The superintendent announced the school theme for 2021-2022: Together we R.I.S.E.
Tiger Virtual Academy (TVA) has a current enrollment of approximately 200 K-12 students.
The district’s cross country runners raised $17,000 after completing a 24-hour relay.
Noble Elementary School was named PTA National School of Excellence. Also, the National Network of Partnership Schools awarded the school the 2021 Partnership Award. Noble Elementary School will receive a free membership as a NNPS school.
Ms. Kirby announced the COVID dashboard is up to date and on the CHUH website.
Initial research has begun into air-conditioning for buildings without AC in preparation for a feasibility study. The board agreed that the next Lay Facilities Committee meeting needed to discuss air conditioning. Mr. Posch suggested that an engineering firm evaluate one of the older elementary schools for price and feasibility. Mr. Heintz suggested also exploring solar options.
2026 Strategic Plan
The bulk of the plan was presented in August. At this meeting, the superintendent presented the planning timeline and the strategic plan dashboard, which enumerated key data targets and the strategies to be employed and measured for each goal. The detailed PowerPoint of the 2026 Strategic Plan is available on Board Docs.
The board members asked how various disciplines would be included in the strategic plan. The board consensus was that student achievement be emphasized in the transparency of the benchmarks and achievements of specific goals. The metrics for each goal will be presented in five-year increments. The board expressed appreciation for the impressive work accomplished to develop the plan and to make the components accessible to the community. The strategic plan and the process for implementing it will be on CHUH.org for people to view and track the progress of each goal.
The board approved the plan.
Mr. Gainer announced that the bond sale would close September 9. Taxpayers will benefit from savings on the general obligation bonds. Savings on certificates of participation (COPs) will free up funds for school improvements.
Mr. Gainer is waiting for specific funding amounts to be allotted under the state budget’s Fair School Funding Plan. The state distributes funds twice a month. The October payments will provide clearer amount of the allocation to CHUH Schools.
Board members made several comments. Ms. Lewis observed that the board cut 2.5 mills over the past three years. Mr. Heintz noted that the teachers had accepted concessionary contracts. Several board members expressed hope that the Fair School Funding legislation will come as expected so another levy will not be needed for a few years.
Mr. Posch noted the need for a new location for the bus depot. The Wiley property is being considered but needs modifications to be a workable bus depot. Also, sharing part of a bus depot at the Wiley site has been discussed with Mayor Brennan in hopes of sharing services with the City of University Heights. Draft plans to make the property usable have been shared with the Lay Facilities Committee. Pricing for work and materials has increased since the process began. Mayor Brennan will receive an invitation to the October work session to discuss this issue.
Mr. Heintz, the board liaison to the Heights School Foundation said the foundation is contributing $120,000 to fund programing, materials, and scholarships to Open Doors Academy.
Ms. Lewis read an email from a teacher who praised the cleaning crew for the amazing job done between summer camp and the start of the school year.
Mr. Posch said the board would like to hold meetings in the high school to enable social distancing, but they are considering other spaces because students will need the auditorium.
Upcoming meetings include a work session Sept. 21. The next regular meeting will be Oct. 5, 2021.
LWV observer, Rosemarie Fairman
Documents for all board meetings can be accessed from the Board of Education webpage: www.chuh.org/BoardofEducation.aspx. Go to “BoardDocs” in the left frame menu; on Board Docs go to “MEETINGS” in the top menu; click on “Agenda.”
Board meetings are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/CHUHSchools) and recorded for later viewing.