Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education Candidate Jodi L. Sourini
Education: B.S., Public Relations, Kent State University; M.B.S., John Carroll University
Current occupation: Marketing and Communications, current member of the Board of Education
The School District has made a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and educational equity. Do you agree with this commitment? If yes, what would you do as a Board member to support those values and promote student success?
Yes. I support by continuing to train district employees in diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. Focus on closing our achievement gap between white students and students of color, special ed and English language learners by setting clear goals to tackle the issue and measure progress. Continue our Tiger Summer Camp, AP preparation and Bridges to Algebra programs, reinvigorate our Career & Technical Education Programs, enhance middle school offerings, expand preschool programs and add additional tutors and academic supports. Expand our Grow Your Own professional development program that provides college scholarships so minorities in our classified staff can obtain the education and credentials required to move into teaching positions.
Regarding the Community Learning Center (“CLC”) that the School District and some community partners are implementing at Noble Elementary School, how would you as a Board member support the CLC and encourage the Noble community to utilize its wraparound social and medical services?
Communication is key. I’ll meet with established organizations in the neighborhood such as Noble Neighbors, the Noble Library branch, local businesses, as well as the Noble Elementary PTA, etc. to make sure they’re knowledgeable about the social and medical services the CLC offers. In these meetings, I’ll arrange tours and invite local businesses/partner organizations to help implement and encourage residents to access CLC services. Then I’d advocate for a door-to-door campaign in the Noble neighborhood to raise awareness directly with Noble residents. Lastly, I’d advocate for special outreach to Nepali/Bhutanese residents with materials produced in native languages to make sure we overcome any English as a second language barriers.
What actions do you think the Board should take to maintain the fiscal health of the School District? How would these actions affect the quality of its academic and extracurricular offerings?
It’s vital our School Board continue advocating with lawmakers in Columbus to ensure the Fair School Funding plan is fully enacted and funded in the next two biennial budgets. The majority of public school funding is backloaded in years 5 and 6. If implemented, this plan enables the district to continue our high quality programs and extracurriculars. As we push for Fair School Funding, it’s equally important for the School Board to continue evaluating every expenditure to support those that contribute to student achievement. Now that the unpredictable deduction method of funding EdChoice has been eliminated, we have a better ability to manage our budget effectively so we can eliminate the need for a levy for at least the next five years.
What role should environmental considerations play in the Board of Education’s policies and actions?
The role of the school board is to oversee the district’s mission to educate children and to be responsible stewards of public and natural resources. The Board of Education should support environmental projects, programs and policies when they contribute to our students’ learning, are proven technologies that protect the environment or reduce harm and are financially feasible for the district to implement.
What challenges or opportunities do you think are presented by the School District’s continued ownership of properties that are no longer used for classroom purposes?
I live near Walter Stinson Park in University Heights, which was a public school, a private school, an abandoned property and now is a valued park. I know firsthand the challenges and opportunities properties pose for residents when no longer used. District properties are public assets that require careful consideration to ensure they’re not needed before disposing. Likewise, we need to consider maintenance costs carefully. Green spaces are important to the quality of life and boost nearby property values, which helps the District now rather than waiting for long tax abatements to expire. I support redeveloping blighted/underutilized properties but believe in preserving public lands that are our community’s last available green spaces.