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Educational Visioning Update, June 1

An Update from the Board of Education on Educational Visioning, June 1, 2015

As the Shaker Heights City School District embarks upon a comprehensive long term facility plan, the administration and Board of Education want our community to understand why.

Every organization should have a plan for maintaining its bricks and mortar. Our oldest school building was erected in 1914 and our newest constructed in 1955. A facility plan was begun in 2011 but set aside because of funding and time constraints. Our last bond issue for major maintenance was in 2004. Our last capital project was replacement of the high school track and installation of artificial turf in 2012.  

Before developing our facility maintenance plan, we decided to pause and reflect upon whether our buildings need to be adapted for 21st century education. We will therefore spend the first several weeks of this process focused on “Educational Visioning” – engaging teachers, students and parents in a discussion of what teaching practices serve our students best and further our future as an International Baccalaureate district. From there we will explore how architecture affects learning. We have engaged a consulting firm with local, national, international and IB experience to facilitate the process and help us review our practices and aspirations. 

A community is known by the schools its keeps. Defining how we want to teach will govern how we care for our facilities and whether we need to make any modifications beyond fundamental repairs. We are lucky to be able to have this discussion from a place of strength and success both in terms of our teaching and our buildings. It is not about fixing what is wrong or broken, but rather enhancing what is right and thoughtfully planning for our students’ future.

We are starting this now in part because during the last year our District became eligible for matching grant funds provided by the Ohio School Facilities Commission Classroom Facilities Assistance Program to be used for new or renovated buildings. Thus we have an opportunity to leverage state funds for the goals our community may have for its schools, an opportunity other districts have used to their advantage and which we would be remiss not to explore. The Board elected to pursue those funds with the understanding that we can withdraw at certain benchmarks, if we determine that our timing or our goals do not align with the OSFC requirements. We understand our District has limited financial resources and exploring this option only makes sense. It does mean that for the time being, the schedule relates to OSFC requirements; however, we remain focused on careful planning.

Details will be posted on no later than July 1. The visioning process regarding pedagogy will proceed through the early summer and fall based primarily on the input from our teachers and students. Once the Educational Visioning process is complete that information will form the basis for a broader community discussion and the development of a long term master facilities plan. Please watch the website for updates and details, including how every Shaker citizen may participate in the process.