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42 Teachers Laid Off by Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools

Board of Education aproves 7 percent staff reduction at Tuesday meeting.

Editor's note: The percentage of staff reduction has been corrected.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools will lay off 42 teachers at the end of this academic year.

The Board of Education unanimously approved the staff reductions at Tuesday’s meeting, and the teachers who will be laid off have been notified. The district noted that there will be subsequent reductions in support and administrative staff that are expected to be reviewed by the Board May 21.

The district was required by law to notify the laid off teachers by April 30.

The cuts represent a 7 percent reduction in teaching staff. Superintendent Doug Heuer noted that the teaching staff has increased its teaching staff by 5 percent since 2001, but cut administrative staff by 21 percent and support staff by 6 percent in the same time span.

In the same time span, student population has decreased by 16 percent. “Much of the teacher increase has been related to an increasing number of special education students, and an increasing number of at-risk students, but it still needs to be brought in line with our current needs.

“Reducing staff will align our staffing numbers with the needs of the student population being served,” he added.

Heuer noted that the district’s principals will use a zero-based budget strategy for next year’s schools.

Cleveland Heights Teachers Union President Ari Klein spoke after the meeting.

"People are devastated. People are losing their jobs," he said. "But the board has to make cuts at this point in time to become the right size."

He added, "I don't believe that it was a malicious layoff. They're probably being more safe than they need to be. They're trying to be responsible stewards."

Teaching spots that open up — due to retirements, resignations or the final enrollment numbers for next school year — will be offered first to the teachers who have been laid off. 

"It still hurts when people are reduced, even if they're called back next week," said Klein. "We lose good people in that time. We lose good people we've invested in."

Chris Eaton April 24, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Michael, also with due respect, I think the problem is deeper than special needs kids. The truth is there's a large contingent of parents in our district who don't consider the public schools an option. The question is, how do you convince people to use the schools they're already paying for instead of sending their kids to private schools? It may not be possible. Unless you can somehow convince people to take their kids out of Gesu, Beaumont, Hawken, etc. and put them back into the public system this trend will likely continue. I'm not originally from Cleveland and where I'm from private schools are for the wealthy, public for everyone else. Here it's as if private school is for the middle up to the wealthy and public school is only for the poor. It's a very strange and alien system to me, and it really doesn't work to the benefit of anyone's children. I would even say, that in my observation, the education quality of many the private schools in the area is below that of the public schools. But that doesn't seem to be the universal understanding.
michaelschwartz April 24, 2013 at 06:04 PM
I think Colleens quote above from the Superintendent above pretty much sums up the situation. The powers that be from city leadership on down have bent over trying to do their liberal part in welcoming section 8, etc. into the city and this is what you get. An inundation that has wrecked the school system. Who in their right minds is going to send their kids to Heights High? All one needs to do is pick up the Sun Press and read the police blotter about the assaults, fighting, etc. It does not take a PHD to figure out their is not much learning going on there as evidenced by the State Achievement tests which rank Heights in bottom 5% in whole state according to Patch. I've talked with people who've yanked their kids out of Heights and they will do anything, take a second job, move just to keep their kids out of there. Until they get control of basic discipline, which they should be able to do since CHUH is the second highest property taxes, nothing will change.
Engaged Citizen April 24, 2013 at 06:06 PM
My experience is that the quality of the teachers in our public schools are far superior to their counterparts in the nearby private schools. They are better trained and more committed. I know many on both sides and I would never spend $20k per year to put my kids in the hands of some of them. The biggest challenge to the public system is the transient population and the city housing department's inability to hold absentee landlords accountable to the quality and maintenance of the housing. A large swath of CH consists of low-end, poverty-ridden housing where the students go home to no electricity, no parenting, and no accountability for their behavior. This reality is spoiling the experience for everyone in the community committed to fostering a productive environment. This fact cannot be labeled racism or prejudice, as it is observed reality over the course 25 years in the community and schools. Fix the rental problem and you will fix the community and the schools. The alternative is the current course speeding towards a police state where the schools are managed like prisons. If you want to know what the future looks like, go to Euclid. They are about 5 years ahead of us. Fix housing and you will fix our schools.
michaelschwartz April 24, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Ths issue is not quality of teachers which I am sure they are, it is the false notion that parents are going to send their kids to schools that are dominated by special needs and at risk kids.. this is why, rather than Colleens notion that all these kids need all these extra teachers ma be true but will do nothing but chase the middle , let alone the rich away from Heights schools. I am not sure that Colleen realizes that this premise does nothing to help attract families to the district except more rental and section 8. If the BOE focuses on catering to section 8 that is what it will get.
Engaged Citizen April 24, 2013 at 06:32 PM
I think you are overly dismissive of the special needs population and I think you're wrong. Beachwood does a fantastic job with special needs and people move there for that reason. My point about quality of teachers, that was anecdotal. My point is specifically about the oversight of non owner occupied housing and the gutting effect it has on a community's identity and stability.
michaelschwartz April 24, 2013 at 06:48 PM
We are saying the same thing. In Cleveland Heights the at risk, special needs that are inundating the system are section 8. To your point about oversight there apparently is none as you constantly read here about the illegal kids using an address in CHUH to get in and we as taxpayers of CHUH are paying their fare. There is little or no acknowledgement from the school supporters that catering to the rental crowd will do nothing to attract those families that have left. They will either move or send their kids to privates. What compelling reason is there for a parent who has expectations to send their kids to Heights currently? I can think of no reason in its present form. What the school supporters fail to grasp is that they have tolerated and accepted low expectations for too long and they cannot grasp why anyone wouldn't use the Heights schools in their present form. The majority of people have spoken with their feet.
Garry Kanter April 24, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Well, I suggest that whatever is broken in CH, UH and the CH-UH schools can be fixed by real leadership. That current mob has to go.
Garry Kanter April 24, 2013 at 08:24 PM
And that includes the heads of those so-called "civic groups" that falsely and cynically claim to represent We The People. And the editor of the Sun Papers, too.
Dave April 24, 2013 at 10:52 PM
The good news is the teachers pension is still in tact.
Nathaniel Brooks April 25, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Well Michelle move, nobody liked you anyway. It's not the everyone's fault that you have bad genes. Life sucks, get a helmet. The school system sucks. I've live in CH/UH for over 15 years. I went to private school. It has its pros and cons as well. In all honesty if I had children I would never send them to Heights. Greed is what crippled this nation, stupidity will destroy it. I have an Idea how about we teach kids reading, writing and Arithmetic. The one's that can't or won't grasp the concepts send them somewhere else. What happened to the bussing thing? If you can bus them in, you sure as hell can bus them out lol. That is all.
Colleen April 25, 2013 at 02:35 AM
Michael, MANY families in the ROX area DO use the school. Drive by some morning-you might be surprised by the number of families walking to school. To your comment about who would use the schools...are you there? Do you have first-hand experience? If not, you do not know. The teachers and principal are incredible at Roxboro, and I have very happy friends at Fairfax. My children are not getting any "less" of an education than their friends elsewhere. In fact, I know they are getting a great education at the elementary level! I have toured other area schools, met with principals, and compared notes with friends-in Shaker, Orange, Chagrin, etc. Our kids are on track. I have not "accepted low expectations", as you say. In fact, I have been pleasantly surprised and I have high expectations for education. When I look at test results for the district, I know this: there are kids who test off the charts and those who fail. The schools are not "bad", but teaching so many different kids from different backgrounds must be an incredible challenge-hence why proper support is needed, or families will flee because all children will suffer. My concern is for the long-term: high school-especially if support continues to get cut. I know high-achieving families at Heights High who love it and their children are thriving-some going to the best colleges in the country in the fall, including my neighbor. It's unfortunate we are not hearing from these families as a community via websites and media.
Colleen April 25, 2013 at 02:58 AM
I'm sorry, Michelle, for your experience. My brother has severe CP - physically and developmentally - and went to Fairfax (30 years ago) and then to Beachwood and they both were incredible at the time. Finding the right school for a child with special is difficult enough, and then to have not received the support you needed, must have been extremely disappointing and frustrating. I would like to think that the CHUH district is supportive, so this is disappointing to hear differently from you. Best of luck.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 08:43 AM
Amen, Colleen! My children graduated from Heights, including one with an IEP, and, I now I substitute teach in the district. A microcosm of my experience is in the instrumental music department, where we have everyone from Cleveland Orchestra members' children to children who are the first in their families to take up an instrument. Some take private lessons, some don't, and the district has to meet those varying needs. Instrumentalists are over-represented in honors classes, where I overhear some discussing whether they should go to Cornell or Northwestern universities, for example; I also teach children who have missed school because they were expected to care for younger children in a family crisis. Rather than complain, Heights residents we should start by acknowledging that we stay rather than run away. The problems of urban and inner-ring districts are the problems of poverty; the schools have become the whipping boy. Lastly, no, "section 8" kids do not dominate special ed programs; if anything that is one of the more diverse populations in the district, socially, economically, and religiously.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 12:05 PM
schwartz, you are a sweetheart for seeing special needs kids as burdens, to say nothing of stereotyping whothey might be, aren't you? My child had an IEP in the Heights schools, and that population is if anything more representative of the Heights than the overall school population. Rox busing is not to fill the school, btw.
michaelschwartz April 25, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Colleen, you are sadly mistaken. The DeJOng analysis of a few years ago, clearly showed that only about 100 kids who live in the Rox neighborhood, used Rox. The rest were bussed in from across Mayfield. Those are the fact then and if anything they have gotten worse. As to your contention that the Heights schools are great and are on the par of Chagrin, Orange, etc., that is just laughable and pathetic if you really believe that. I'll go out on a limb and say you probably don't think the State Achievement tests don't matter (according to Patch CHUH ranks in the bottom 5% in whole State)?
Nolan Thrice April 25, 2013 at 02:32 PM
What's the matter, Garry? You can't comment on Sun Papers either. What do you do for a living -- besides troll here, Cleveland dot com, Ohio dot com and any other online forum?
michaelschwartz April 25, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Gee, Savino, are you a closet racist? I f you can't stay on topic and resort to code racism, I suggest you stay out of the thread. Be that as it may, since you claim to be a teacher ( a misnomer perhaps?) a have a simple math equation for you to ponder: low expectations + second highest property taxes = continued collapse of Heights Schools. The corollary (if you know what that means) High expectations plus low taxes = good to high performing school district with ability to attract families. Why don't you chew on that for awhile.
Engaged Citizen April 25, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Wow Schwartz, for someone who is convinced of the failings of CHUH, you sure do invest a disproportionate amount of time concerned with it. I have just changed my mind about the greatest challenge for CHUH, it is miserable complainers like yourself who can't afford to move the hell away. Why don't you pack up your stuff and take Eric Silverman with you. The two of you can complain and moan to each other about how smart you are and how dumb everyone else is while presenting no real solutions. Go to Chagrin, it's the new Beachwood (which is why most of us don't want to move there)!
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Far from it, Scwartz, I'm translating YOUR code. I actually came back to the site to delete my intemperate remark. So, what DO you mean by "north of Mayfield"?
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 04:40 PM
You do speak an inadvertent truth, schwartz, that when people move away from a district, it has little to do with the teachers and the programs; it can have much to do with them not liking their children's schoolmates. I don't believe CHUH has low expectations at all, what they have is the challenge that Colleen states so succinctly above—meeting a wide range of needs, talents, and socioeconomic conditions. Public schools ALONE have the mandate to not give up, they can't close shop, and they can't select their student body. Every stakeholder—student, parent, teacher, citizenry (I refuse to single out "taxpayer" as some unique category)—matters, and, to belabor my point, even when some stakeholders appear to fail, the district cannot and must not give up. And they don't. I'll tell you one more thing: I cherish my students, and I respect their parents. I used to tutor adults working for their GEDs, and my fondest wish for urban and inner ring districts is that they become venues for continued education. We must not claim to cherish the children then dismiss the parents. ps—I stayed in the Hights for the schools.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Beachwood is a small district, and does not cover all special needs within the district. It is possible a child in Beachwood will be sent out of the district for certain needs Likewise, students from outside the district can receive Beachwood's hearing impaired program. I base this on my experience a decade back, in which I was told by Beachwood staff based on my child's MFE that those needs would have been met by sending this child to SEL SD. Maybe things have changed.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 04:55 PM
No, they aren't overwhelmingly section 8. They are from all over the district, and are if anything more reflective of the general population. Parents of children who would otherwise attend religious schools send their children to CHUH for special education. As to compelling reasons, there are members of the 2013 class accepted at Harvard, Oberlin, Berklee College of Music, etc.
Colleen April 25, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Juliana and Engaged Citizen - where's the "like" button for your comments? Michael, I have a special needs brother who I am legal guardian to and I'm outraged at the way you are discriminating against wonderful people like him. You clearly have your thoughts about at-risk kids too. Whatever, I am not going to, nor do I have the energy or desire to try to, change your opinion. But, I would like to simply remind you that anyone can be brought to their knees in seconds (no matter how smart or superior one might think they are) in this world due to its uncertainty - I hope for your sake you are never in a situation to need help from others, as karma is a real bitch...
michaelschwartz April 25, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Colleen read your original post. You complain that they are laying off teachers and imply that due to an increasing special needs population they should be increasing hiring not decreasing. All I said was the that a district that promotes special needs will do nothing to attract the middle/upper class families that the district needs. That is a fact and I stand by it. If a city promotes section 8 and the like, like CH has that is what you will get. There is no discrimination against special needs as you say, it is just telling it like it is. You don't have to change my opinion, it is what it is, but if you expect the CHUH schools to turnaround, and for that matter the city before you're the last one left you better look at the simple formula I posted above, which I take no credit for as other more enlightened suburbs like Beachwood, Solon, etc, adhere to and wake up and smell the coffee. And as a side note, I am sensitive to special needs but there is nothing special about what is offered at CHUH. Most districts offer as good or better for a much less cost apparetnly as eveidenced by the taxes in CHUH..
Juliana Sadock Savino April 25, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Liking your posts right back, Collen and Engaged Citizen. CHUH did right by my child, who now an adult. Teachers and staff who knew this child as a toddler remember and ask about my child. They are devoted and tireless.
Colleen April 26, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Now I am wondering if other local east side districts (i.e. Shaker, Orange, Beachwood, Chagrin) will be making same budget cut decisions - to lay off teachers and potentially staff/admin. - due to anticipated state funding cuts.
Garry Kanter April 26, 2013 at 06:51 PM
The CH-UH BOE has no foresight. They abdicate their planning responsibilities to the treasurer and superintendent. Then they rubber-stamp whatever those two come up with. Comparisons to other districts, therefore, may or may not be meaningful.
michaelschwartz April 26, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I would still like to know what happened to the $40 million in deferred maintenance money. If they had it earmarked for upkeep and never used it, where did it go? And if they never budgeted it in and then never told the taxpayers until now that they have all these major repair items, that is inexusable. What are the BOE and administration elected and appointed to do? BE GOOD STEWARDS OF THE TAXPAYERS DOLLARS. And now they want to pawn off these layoffs on the Kasich administration? How convenient and pathetic. And they want the property owners to approve a $232 million total rebuild of the schools? This is beyond belief.
Garry Kanter April 26, 2013 at 07:35 PM
The $42 MILLION repairs backlog at 11 schools - as of 2007 - has barely been remedied, if at all, and Phase I does *nothing* to address the ever-growing problems at the elementary schools. Which will only continue to grow until Phase II. Phase II - the elementary schools, is 7 - 10 years away, IF a second state approval is forthcoming at that time. Our district is currently 522nd out of 600+ districts on the waiting list for REVIEW. The "work" of the BOE's hand-picked LFC is unacceptable. Hardly worth considering with all this neglect.
Michael's Shorts April 28, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Sorry, "michael," but perhaps you're mistaken. Per the Plain Dealer's recent ranking of local school districts based on value-added, CH-UH is middle of the pack and ahead of districts such as Orange, Shaker Heights, and Kenston. Value-added measures how much academic growth students have in any given school year, and while I think there are serious flaws in the metric, it's another data point and one that is much less correlated with socioeconomic status than the ranking that you obsessively cite. http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/04/how_is_your_district_doing_see_1.html

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