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Cleveland Heights-University Heights Superintendent Discusses Renovations, State Rating

Heuer hopeful that district will approve and implement Master Facilities Plan in time for November 2013 ballot issue.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools Superintendent Doug Heuer told parents and community members that the district will ask residents to approve a bond issue this November.

The bond would fund the district's Master Facilities Plan, which the district hopes to finalize this spring.

Heuer outlined the district's accomplishments and challenges over the last year, including  a football player who signed on with The Ohio State University, the district's students who earned national academic awards and the high school's receipt of a $35,000 grant to fund STEM curriculum.

He also laid out goals for the future, which include professional development for staff, renovating the schools and place a focus on pre-kindergarten programs.

Heuer addressed the district's "Continuous Improvement" rating on the Ohio Department of Education's 2011-2012 District report cards, and pointed out the district's improved Performance Index Score.

"We are continuing to focus on increasing the rigor in all of our classes, along with aligning our curriculum to the Common Core Standards," he added.

Heuer said that the district faces unique challenges: 1 in 5 students are transient, 1 in 5 have special needs, more than 2 out of 3 students are economically disadvantaged.

"We recognize and understand the challenges of issues involved with poverty, but that is not an excuse to allow any of our students to not be successful," Heuer added.

In the past year, the district has taken steps to address these challenges, Heuer said:

  • At the high school, the district eliminated one of the five small schools to increase instructional time and allow students to take all their core classes at their small school.
  • All teachers and students in grades 4-12 have an iPad or a laptop, and all classrooms have SmartBoards.
  • Converted Taylor Academy to the Delisle Options Center, where transfer students are assessed annually, and where the district's alternative school and secondary intervention center are located.
  • The district is continuing to focus on literacy in the elementary schools.
  • The district is on track to have each school's Pathways implemented by 2016.

"I'm appalled at the achievement gap, but aren't we all?" said Malia Lewis, who has two children in the district and watched Heuer's speech. "This is about the much broader demographic and the community we live in. How do we get everyone's chld up to the level that I'm kicking my kids in the butt to get to?"

CHUH was one of six districts in Ohio to be named a Next Generation Innovation District by the prestigious Council of Chief State School Officers, Heuer said.

"For a large number of our students, if it doesn't happen in school, it's not going to happen," said Heuer. "We aspire to be a magnet school district for families to remain in the community or come to the community. Our schools must be beacons for the community."

One parent said she was excited for the initiatives Heuer spoke about.

"I think that my fourth grader is going to benefit beautifully. I'm really excited," said Margaret Hall, who also has a junior and a graduate of CHHS.

"I like the plans. I support what he's trying to do."

Heuer said that the schools are not conducive to learning, and outlined a timeline for the Master Facilities Plan implementation. 

"Because of the advancing age of our buildings, we have tens of millions of dollars in repairs we are never going to catch up on," he said.

The district intends to restructure the district, renovating some buildings and possibly shutting down at least one building, and Heuer said that the district will ask for a bond to fund the project in this November's election.

Lewis added that she thinks the bond issue is an important one. "The important thing is convincing everyone that doesn't have kids in the schools to vot for whatever levy we need."

Heuer laid out goals for the next year:

Grow the district's preschool partnerships and programs. "There are 1,825 days from birth to kindergarten entry and each of these days matter in preparing a child for his or her formal education. We must also use before and after school accessibility and programs and extended school year studies to compliment or supplement each student's learning experience. And we must continue to expand our use of technology to provide students access to learning beyond the school walls."

Professional development to build the capacity of the professional staff for literacy intervention, Pathway curriculum development, understanding of the new Ohio Common Core standards, and the application of the continuous improvement process to all facets of instruction.

Implement the Facilities Master Plan to "renovate and recreate our facilities for flexibility of use, security, year around functionality, cost efficiency and environmental responsibility."

Read the full address in the PDF above.

What do you think of Heuer's words? Leave your comments!

Garry Kanter January 26, 2013 at 02:48 AM
I agree with every word you wrote. In addition, I have reached the conclusion that the BOE and admin are not capable of identifying the long term needs, the short term needs, or managing such.
Garry Kanter January 26, 2013 at 02:52 AM
...except maybe the "fact that Boulevard and Fairfax are already a decade past their respective shelf life."
michaelschwartz January 26, 2013 at 03:05 AM
UH res: 1st paragraph agreed to. 2nd paragraph: Just why should we trust a BOE that pays lip service to achievement tests, with a total rebuild of the schools? As another poster pointed out, why is there at present $40 million in deferred maintenance? Who is asleep at the the switch for the past 10 years? This is criminal and I mean that in all seriousness. As I pointed out Chagrin Middle School is for the most part is 100 years old yet it is maintained. Is it this Shergalis fellow who is in charge of basic maintenance? Or is it the snake oil salesman Heuer who deals with "big' ideas? Or is it the BOE who has their heads in the sand or is it just plain incompetence? Have you been on the Civic Commons discussion web site at the chuhfacilities.org page? I have and they are all blathering idiots pining about "sustainable" schools and "swing" classrooms/schools while in the mean time property values continue to plummet and the for sale signs grow like weeds with folks itching to get out of town asap. Think about it.
Garry Kanter January 26, 2013 at 10:47 AM
UH Resident, there's every possibility that your statement can be proven: "fact that Boulevard and Fairfax are already a decade past their respective shelf life." In which case, I point out the *only* plan being considered has the elementary schools being addressed *last*. I find...: Your statement above, which is pretty much a *moderate* statement of the LFC's assessment of Boulevard and Fairfax -plus- The sequence of construction I just mentioned ...as being illogical and almost unnecessarily "punishing" to the next decade of students that would be required to attend those two schools.
John H. February 27, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Michael, I think you're talking about Chagrin Intermediate School (Grades 4-6), not Chagrin Middle, which is a newer building. Chagrin Intermediate is quite old, but has been renovated. Not sure if that school backs up your argument. Boulevard & Fairfax are in bad shape. That doesn't mean the whole district needs a new building. Replacing one school is much different than a whole district of schools. The district is probably going to close an elementary school either way, so pick the crummiest building and move everyone else around. It all comes down to wither or not the residents of the district feel they have the money for these renovations or new constructions. But I hope if the school board goes through with this, they at least do it in a way that cuts down on the buildings maintenance.

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