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CH-UH To Share Final Facilities Design Idea, Cost Wednesday

According to agenda, the district is going to present the details and cost of Plan C.

For nearly six months, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District has met with residents, parents and students dozens of times to get feedback on plans to renovate and rebuild .

Wednesday night, residents will hear details about the proposal that made the final round — The final facilities master plan community meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Social Room.

The third design idea was unveiled after residents that called for closing about a half a dozen schools. The district scheduled and to get additional input.

In the third proposal, three elementary schools — and — would close. Parents and teachers at Gearity Professional Development School about the fact the school, which is the only elementary building in University Heights, would close under all facilities design ideas at one of the community meetings.

The agenda for the community meeting, posted on the CH-UH Facilities Master Plan blog, indicates that after a brief welcome statement and a presentation of Plan C, people will break out into nine different stations throughout the room, each with specifics on an aspect of the plan. The blog detailed what each table would include:

  • Superintendent – Talk with the superintendent about the vision of the district
  • Idea C – Learn about the current idea for aligning the facilities with the educational program
  • Partnerships – Discuss ideas for partnering and community resources
  • Infrastructure – Learn about the existing facilities
  • Education – Talk with the assistant superintendent about education in CH-UH
  • Phasing – Learn how Idea C can be constructed and phased
  • Cost Projection – Discuss the estimated costs for Plan C
  • Pilots – Learn about the pilot student base learning centers that will be constructed this summer
  • Athletics – See how the Stadium and Pool at the High School can be transformed to better serve students and community members

A Q&A session will follow.

Communications Director Angee Shaker said after this meeting, the district will continue to modify the plans.

"We will continue to gather community input and make refinements as we go. The additional neighborhood meetings have been very helpful because they gave us more opportunities to answer questions and clear up some of the misconceptions," Shaker said by email.

The Board of Education will meet to discuss the facilities planning report and recommendations at a work session set for 7:30 p.m. April 23.

Check out the current details of Design Idea C, and tell us, what do you think about the plan? What do you hope to find out at the meeting?

Visit our topic page about the CH-UH Facilities Master Plan to see all related articles.

Interested Citizen April 18, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I wholeheartedly agree. Taking away the last public elementary school option for the city of University Heights will be very detrimental to every citizen of University Heights. The lack of communication and transparency with the BOE and district is extremely distressing to say the least. There hasn't been a bit of open dialogue. I know many people, myself included, that have gotten scripted/canned responses or no response or worse from the Board members and District. The District Board Members should listen openly to the constituents that they serve, not the administration they look over.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 18, 2012 at 05:42 AM
How many University Heights families east of Warrensville Center Road even have school aged children attending in the district? I suspect very few, given the significant number of Orthodox Jewish and Catholic families in those neighborhoods. Canterbury serves UH families West of WCR. To make a distinction based on which side of the city limits it is on seems beside the point. Gearity is a beautiful building; realistically, does it serve its neighborhood. And that leads to a point not much mentioned: it seems that the idea of walking to school will become a quaint relic since the proposed plans put many households over a mile from an elementary school. I don't know that there's a solution, but it seems that the concept of a neighborhood school is falling by the wayside. We bought our home because it was near an elementary school. There will be winners and losers amongst the Heights neighborhoods, sad to say.
George G. April 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM
We live East of Warrensville and attend Gearity as do my neighbors...and yes my kids walk to school accompanied by my wife...and we go there after school and on the weekends to spend time on the playground and fly model rockets is the field...and we helped pay for and build and that playground...
amandashaffer April 18, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I can get behind plan C because it seems like it was as responsive to the community input as was possible given the restraints. It addresses some of the walkability concerns and maximizes cost savings etc. Its not perfect, nothing will be, but we should figure out how to make it work as a community. And just an FYI, I leave by one of the closing elementary schools so it is "in my backyard".
Rachel Mann April 18, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I would like to know the dollar amount of property taxes University Heights pays to the CH-UH school district. I would also like to know what % of the school budget comes from UH tax dollars. The # of kids enrolled isn't the significant issue (although that number could be increased if UH residents felt the schools considered their needs). The issue is: given the proportion of the total budget UH residents pay, the city should have at least that proportion of leverage on location/type of schools. Think about it: what will happen to the CH-UH public schools when UH decides to pull out and spend their tax dollars elsewhere? I am a strong advocate of the public schools, I live in UH, and I'm appalled that the school district seems to think this is a Cleveland Heights only education system. Did anyone actually look at what Gearity has been doing over the last 5 years? It is a model of the successful changes the district wants to see.
Stephen Wertheim April 18, 2012 at 01:24 PM
When my children graduated from the Heights Schools they represented the third generation to go to Heights Schools in my family. For a district to last this long it has had to innovate and prepare for the future. Unfortunately this plan does neither. It treats the present as if it is the future. Therefore I do not support it
John H. April 18, 2012 at 02:14 PM
CH-UH does not make it's educational decisions based on where the money comes from, nor should it. Decisions should be made on what serves the best interests of ALL the students. No one at the BOE sits down and thinks "OK, we'll do this fo CH and this for UH". They decide which schools to keep open based on where the kids are, the condition of the buildings, etc. And UH isn't going to leave CH-UH. Nor could they if they wanted. If you want proof of that, look what happened with the Caledonia neighborhood of Cleveland Heights- still in East Cleveland School System.
John H. April 18, 2012 at 02:16 PM
People need to stop looking at this in terms of what is best for Cleveland Heights kids or what is best for University Heights kids. The imaginary lines drawn in the ground between these two municipalities are irrelevant- it is one district, and one community.
Concerned UH Citizen April 18, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The thought of asking the public for this kind of money in these difficult economic times seems off-base. As a middle-class family, we are financially stretched to the limit, although we supported the school levy back in the fall. Why can't the school district scale down its plans and concentrate on making its high school safe and top-notch? That way, families with young children in the school system have something to look forward to in the years to come. Prove to us that you can make things work by raising test scores way up and having all of its students feel protected and motivated at Heights High. Then come back to us and ask us for money to fix up the elementary and middle schools. We don't want to put in all this money and experience the turmoil of declining property values and unhappily displaced children, just to end up with fancy facilities and a school district still ranked below average and with many families fleeing after the early elementary years.
Michelle Moling Ware April 18, 2012 at 09:09 PM
There are more UH students at Cabterbury than Gearity. Canterbury borders UH. 4 & 5 graders will still be in UH at the upper elementary Wiley building. I can see the issue if no school in CH was being dosed, but stop making it a CH vs UH. EVERYONE will be making changes. Get over it.
Bill Mangano April 19, 2012 at 01:49 AM
CH-UH School District proposes displacement camps for Gearity students while Roxboro students occupy school. Outrageous.
Bruce Elfvin April 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
The CH-UH schools face extreme challenges to improve under even harder standards. This is not about a school building, but rather has to be about the kind and level of education the children attending the CH-UH schools. No one can deny that something must be done to bring the facilities (and costs) into line with the enrollment, which is down about 50% from peak levels in the district. I would personally prefer to see a full and dynamic plan for Heights High implemented first and then the remainder of the district. This will cause the expenditure of a few years of repair money, but it will allow for a thorough plan on what to do with excess facilities along with the actual benefits to the educational plan. All my children have graduated from Heights schools and I still live here.
Julie April 19, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Plan C was not originally on the table. Plan C was a direct response to community feedback. People were very outspoken about Plans A and B. A plan was brought up by community members at the second meeting and it was adopted or a version was adopted and it became Plan C.
Interested Citizen April 20, 2012 at 12:06 AM
It is not irrelevant when the "University Heights does not support the schools" argument comes up ... which is very frequently.
Interested Citizen April 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM
I disagree Mr. HIckman. In an ideal world no one would look at money. But that is not the case. And when Univeristy Heights' tax paying residents are continually slighted and insulted, we will start to think about where our money is going and who is looking out for our interests. The poster above has a very valid point and you are wrong to criticize it. The district cannot continue to use the argument that UH doesn't support the schools but continue to take our tax dollars (whether we use the schools or not) and not expect these questions ... especially when another large bond issue is coming in November.
Interested Citizen April 20, 2012 at 12:44 AM
The fact that there are more UH students at Canterbury than Gearity is because of where the District drew the lines. The fact that there are few UH students at Gearity is because the lines drawn by the District for Gearity include John Carroll, Bellfaire, and other business areas. No school aged children that go to public school will ever live in those areas. Those issues aren't Gearity's or the city of University Heights issues. Those were brought upon by the way the District drew the lines.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 20, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Concerned UH citizen: a top notch education is available at Heights High. My children graduated from Heights. AP courses are offered, and the list of colleges attended by grads continues to impress. For the high school to do better involves all stakeholders, and who might they be? Everybody, that's who—students, parents, teachers, administrators, and citizens. To lay the problem on only some of these stakeholders is not fair. Full disclosure: I volunteered in the district, and now work as a substitute teacher, so I see the work of the district up close across all grade levels. About 50% of the district's students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, which tells us that many low-income families live in and are served by the district. The problems of CHUH are no different than those of any district that serves the poor, and the standardized test scores that are cited as evidence of educational failure cannot be separated from the problem of poverty. As such, we could look at the burden of middle-class taxpayers in inner-ring districts as one of being our brother's keeper, something to take pride in, and something that on the level of school funding, our wealthier neighboring districts evade. Some of us stay precisely because we are not inclined to move away from a problem. Ohio's school unconstitutional funding formula persists and it is hard on districts like ours.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 20, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Christine, where would you draw the boundary? There is no safe way for elementary aged children to safely cross Warrensville Center Road, which is the boundary, and which makes sense. I happen to think Gearity is a lovely building, it has characteristics of Prairie architecture, and if it can't remain an elementary school, its future use should still be oriented toward the families who live nearby. My own kids played T-ball there many years ago. The wooded grounds make it special. Michelle, I agree. I have lived in both CH and UH, in other words, I'm from "the Heights." We're all in this together.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 20, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Former UH Mayor Rothschild, long may she stay retired, fomented anti-Cleveland Heights sentiment at every opportunity. We don't have to keep this mishegoss going.
Elizabeth Heasley April 20, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Juliana, Warrensville is NOT the boarder. http://www.chuh.org/district/about/boundaryMap Several of the most active members of Gearity's community are west of Warrensville.
Interested Citizen April 21, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Thanks Elizabeth. Yes there are many of us Gearity University Heights residents that live west of Warrensville Center Road. Our home school is Gearity and we love it. We walk when we can (most of us work) and organize many walk to school days. Warrensville Center Road isn't impassable. In my short block (and a half), there are 5 kids that go to Gearity and another that would if the gifted program as it exists today wasn't in effect. There are many more within a few block radius. I love Gearity ... not for the building or grounds (although those do provide nice outdoor learning experiences for our kids) ... but for the people inside the building. And it will be a sad thing for the district if they break up the team that currently works together in the Gearity building. My position isn't to keep the building or grounds. But the city of University Heights needs an elementary school. The school district needs a well thought out and fiscally responsible plan to get our building issues in order, for the now and for the future. This Idea C isn't it. The district needs to start a true conversation with the concerned citizens from both Cleveland Heights and University Heights.
Grant Gulden April 21, 2012 at 10:01 AM
I believe that plan C in completely unacceptable for our community. First I would like to point out that University Heights and Cleveland Heights are two completely separate cities. BUT, we do share a school board and that’s where the problem starts. For as long as I can remember, Cleveland Heights has always been put ahead of University Heights in any and all school district affairs. Plan C is the perfect example. It is extremely obvious that plan C in short term in the scheme of things and not at all beneficial to University Heights. The plan will not only lower University Heights property value. It will eliminate the only Public Elementary option in the city. Let’s say Plan C was carried out and a young couple with a newborn is looking to purchase a home somewhere. What reason would they have to move to University Heights? The answer is none. Why move to a city with high taxes and no elementary school. Secondly, the board is being extremely deceptive with its motives for the district in regards to plan C. This does nothing but perpetuate the large political quagmire faced by the community.
Richard Hollis April 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM
I agree with Bruce Elfvin. Lets fix the High School first and then go about the rest of the district. Of course the main issue is who is going to pay for any of it? I cannot imagine that many will vote to throw more money at the schools.
John H. April 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Ms. Dolan, I am not wrong to criticize an argument just because you disagree with the argument. Nor is my argument incorrect. CHUH school board doesn't make it's decisions based on who pays taxes. That's not their mission or job. They make decisions based on the students. And the tax payers, as a whole, will appreciate that in the end. Now back to everyone.... The reality is that 3 elementary schools are going to close. They have to close. CH-UH doesn't have the funds to keep them open, and doesn't have the students to fill them. It makes sense to keep open the larger buildings, the buildings that are less expensive to maintain or renovate, and it also makes sense to keep open buildings in different parts of the district ( i.e. Oxford in one corner, Roxboro in another). The bottom line is this: If you want Gearity to stay open, either be willing to do the following: 1) Pay more in taxes. 2) Ask CH-UH to close a different school. Keep in mind that it would probably be Canterbury, and that you're essentially doing to one neighborhood what you didn't want done to yours. 3) Ask for an interesting 3rd option- like making Wiley a Pre K- 8 school. Plan A considered it- which means the district is open to it. But ignorantly trying to pitt Cleveland Heights against University Heights is not the answer. CH is losing schools here too.
Grant Gulden April 21, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Yes CH is losing schools too, but when UH makes up approx. a quarter of the district it seems only fair that one of the four schools to remain open should be in UH. If you look at the map that was given out by the district of the boundaries with student density then you will see that the Rox. area has about the same density as Gearity with the exception of a very strangly drawn area that has a heavily populated spot in the far northeast corner. The argument that UH doesn't use the schools is totally false, my family does and we can walk to Gearity. Gearity's enrollment is actually increasing too. It seems that if you keep saying that UH doesn't use the schools and continue to treat UH residents as though they don't count as much as CH residents then it will be a self fullfilling prophecy. Like other UH residents, Im tired of being a second class citizen. And @ Mr. Hickman, it isn't me that is ignorantly pitting UH against CH, that was altready done by the district and Plan C.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 22, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Thank you Elizabeth, I stand corrected. I live on the west side of Warrensville near Meadowbrook, were kids walking to Canterbury are a familiar sight. I still would not want to see them try to cross Warrensville at that point. Just to be clear, I feel for everyone in this community. When my children were younger, we chose the Cedar-Lee neighborhood based on walkability, including the elementary school, Fairfax, which my daughter attended. Ideally, everyone should be able to walk to an elementary school, but when households have fewer children than in generations past, and more households have no children at all, it just is not possible. It might be instructional to look at the Berea City School District (I grew up in Berea), a three-city district close in size to CHUH with similar issues of a shrinking school-age population, and the transition through which they are going. When the transition process is through, There will be 4 P-4 schools, one 5-6 in Brookpark, one 7-9 in Middleburgh Heights, and one 10-12 in Berea (this may become a 9-12 school in the future). I'm not saying the configuration is good or bad, just that they got it done. Thanks Mr Hickman for a well-thought out approach that sheds light rather than heat on the Gearity/UH concerns. UH residents would do well to take his words to heart, as he models not just what needs to be said, but how to say it.
Nancy B. April 22, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Juliana, Hmmm...Seems to me that Mr. Hickman is the only one who called anyone's opinion ignorant because it differs from his. If name calling is the model way to express your opinion then I'll stick with my approach thank you very much.
Juliana Sadock Savino April 22, 2012 at 10:20 PM
I see no name calling in the comment I replied to, 8:58 am on Saturday, April 21, 2012, just a laying out of issues. He's sure he's right, but that's not name calling. Anyway, je suis outta here.
Stephen Wertheim April 23, 2012 at 12:02 AM
As a.resident of the heights there are areas of CH that support levies and do not just as there are areas of UH that are pro and anti levy. If this is about punishing UH then the Heights as a community is finished
John Hubbard July 13, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Please consider signing this petition essentially asking the CH-UH Board of Ed to allow a year of honest community dialog before asking our community for $130 Million. http://www.change.org/petitions/cleveland-heights-university-heights-board-of-education-remove-plan-c-from-consideration-for-the-november-2012-ballot

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