About

Background

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District has been engaged in a master facilities planning process since 2010. The district and school board created a Citizens Facilities Committee that had its first meeting in September 2010.

In a July 2012 post on the district’s master facilities blog, CH-UH Superintendent Doug Heuer summarized the process:

The Cleveland Heights and University Heights communities have spent the last two years giving voice to their ideas, wants and needs about school facilities. Substantial work has been done in that time.  Beginning in early 2011, the District brought together more than 50 community members, elected officials, staff and experts to begin planning how we should address our facilities challenges.

And those challenges are significant. The first things the Citizen Facilities Committee learned included a few critical facts:

 

  • CH-UH hasn’t substantially renovated or improved our facilities in 40 years.
  • Every one of our schools is in need of major repairs. The complete cost of repairing the district’s facilities is more than $40 million.
  • Classrooms of the past can’t provide students with the education they need to be successful in today’s increasingly technology-driven world. If we only repair what needs to be fixed, we do our children a disservice. They need classrooms that allow them to learn 21st Century skills.
  • We have fewer students now than in the past, and as a result we have a lot of space that is going unused. Heating, cooling and cleaning this extra space is an unnecessary expense and these funds could be better used elsewhere.  If we create new, efficient buildings and demolishing buildings that aren’t environmentally or pocketbook friendly, we can better serve our students, community and environment.

The results of all this information led the Citizens Facilities Committee to determine that the CH-UH School District need a comprehensive facilities plan, one that envisioned buildings that meet the needs of today’s education and tomorrow’s students. This plan would mean that we wouldn’t continue to throw good money after bad, wasting the community’s money on costly Band-Aids, but instead tackle the issues at the source. Just as importantly, it would have to take into consideration a realistic assessment of what this community can afford.

 

Following the recommendation of the Citizens Facilities Committee, the District spent a year and a half talking with members of the community about what it would like – and not like – to see in the new facilities. It convened large-scale community Master Facilities Planning meetings and smaller community conversation at local libraries and coffee shops.

The Citizens Facilities Committee’s final report, issued in July 2011, is here.

After considering nine possible alternatives, two ideas (A and B) were presented at the Community Meeting on February 22, 2012.  Following this meeting, the District Administration and Board of Education received considerable feedback which prompted re-examining these ideas.  Idea C was in response to that feedback.

A fact sheet that describes Master Facilities Plan C is here.

At its July 17, 2012 Work Session, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education, by a 5-0 voted, decided not to put a bond issue on the November 2012 ballot, citing insufficient community knowledge of and support for the plan.

Video of the board members’ comments at the July 17 meeting are available on the District’s website, which includes a video archive of Board meetings. To watch them, click on this link, then on the July 17, 2012 meeting.

Remarks at the July 17 meeting by District Director of Administrative Services Steve Shergalis can be found at the 44:02 point of the video, along with comments by board members Eric Coble (starting at 47:37), Nancy Peppler (49:40), Kal Zucker (53:12), and Karen Jones (54:42).

In August 2012, the school board decided to establish a Lay Facilities Committee. At its Oct. 2, 2012 meeting, the CH-UH Board of Education discussed the charge they’re giving the Lay Facilities Committee. Broadly, the committee’s task is to come up with recommendations on a plan that is educationally sound (relying on the expertise and input of our district’s instructional leaders) and fiscally responsible and can enjoy broad community support.

The committee is not working from the assumption that the plan voted on by the board last July remains the plan going forward.

The committee’s goals include the need to engage the community to build consensus around several aspects of a plan, including

– Confirm need for master facilities plan.

– Identify key community values that should drive the process.

– Determine what the community will embrace and support regarding:

– Which buildings are kept open or are closed.

– An acceptable price tag for the project, which will drive millage of a bond issue.

– Funding sources to pay for the project.

– Optimal timeline and sequence of any phasing of the project.

For the Board of Education to place a bond issue on the November 2013 ballot, they will need to act next July. Board members asked that the committee provide its report no later than early May, 2013.

The CH-UH Lay Facilities Committee members were selected and invited to participate by the school board. They are:

Sam Bell, owner, The Lusty Wrench, parent of Heights High graduates
Pam Cameron, University Heights City Council member
James Cull, Cleveland Heights Planning Commission member
Phil Ertel
, University Heights City Council member (will rotate with Pam Cameron)
Susan Fleischer, co-owner, The Wine Spot
Krissy Dietrich Gallagher
,
Fairfax PTA vice president
Donna Guilmette,
Many Villages tutoring coordinator for Canterbury School, parent of Heights student
Nancy Levin
, director of Heights Libraries
Patrick Mullen
(Committee Chair), executive director of Reaching Heights, parent of Heights students
Deanna Bremer Fisher, executive director of FutureHeights
Jane Goodman, South Euclid City Council member
John Hubbard, Reaching Heights Board of Directors member, parent of Heights students
Chyrel Oates, assistant director of the Treu-Mart Youth Development Fellowship Program at CWRU
Jim Posch
, member of former facilities committee, former levy co-chair, parent of Heights students
Alvin Saafir, President, MBE Construction Solutions, Reaching Heights Board of Directors member, parent of Heights graduates and student
Brian Schaner
, Heights High teacher, Cleveland Heights Teachers Union vice president, CH resident
Dallas Schubert, member of former facilities committee, former levy co-chair, parent of Heights students, Heights alumna
Eric Silverman, president of the Heights High alumni foundation, former school board member
Jodi Sourini, Gearity Professional Development School PTA
Dave Tabor, on former facilities committee, former levy co-chair, parent of Heights students
Natoya Walker, Chief of Public Affairs, office of Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson; parent of Heights student
Dennis Wilcox, Cleveland Heights City Council, Vice Mayor
Richard Wong, Cleveland Heights planning and development director

The Lay Facilities Committee issued its Final Report and Recommendations to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education on May 7, 2013. The full report can be found here, and all accompanying documents on our Resources & Links page.

 

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