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Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Term: 4 yearsFour candidates--Tiera D. Briggs, Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, and Jodi L. Sourini--are competing for three open seats on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education. Three incumbents, Ronald Register, Kal Zucker, and Eric Silverman, are not running again.The Board of Education is composed of five residents who serve overlapping terms of 4 years. As the governing body of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, the Board seeks to represent the best interests of the community, and to provide an enriched learning environment so that all students realize success.
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    Dan Heintz Public School Teacher

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    Malia Lewis landlord & property manager

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    Jodi L. Sourini Marketing Communications Manager

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Biographical Information

What skills and qualities would you bring to the board of education? Why do you want to serve on the board?

What are the two or three most important things the board must address to improve student performance? Do you see other challenges facing the Cleveland Heights-University Heights schools? How, as a member of the board, would you work on these issues?

The facilities project for Heights High School was significantly over budget. What do you feel is the board's responsibility in this overrun? How will you keep costs within budget for the middle schools' projects. What do you expect will be lost in the middle schools' original plans as a result of having less money left than expected?

What is your opinion on current state and federal policies for the issues listed below? How should the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school board respond to them? • The evaluation of teachers, schools, and students • The support of charter schools and vouchers as alternatives to traditional public schools • Changes in school funding

Age 50
Education K-12 CH-UH - B.A. John Carroll University - M.Ed. Ursuline College
I initially offered myself as a candidate for our Board of Education because I felt that there was an important voice missing: the voice of a teacher. Now, with the departure of all three incumbents, I believe that my experiences as an educator could not come at a better time. As someone who has actively followed local, state and federal education policy, I understand the political world within which our district operates. As a seasoned mid career educator, I am aware of the issues impacting teaching and learning inside our classrooms. As a teacher who is active in his profession beyond the walls of the classroom, I have extensive experience on committees related to contract negotiations, strategic planning, school levies, professional development, teacher evaluation, standardized testing, and addressing the impact of charter and voucher schools. These experiences have provided me valuable training, and have helped prepare me to serve on our Board of Education.
To improve learning, I will focus on class size, curriculum and access to after school support. As a teacher myself, I was astounded to learn that some of my son’s 8th grade teachers had 160 students. If we expect teachers to help students become critical thinkers and effective writers, we must have class sizes which support those expectations. Also, administrators & teachers need to work together to ensure that curriculum decisions are informed by a deep understanding of our students and their needs. Additionally, a lack of transportation too often makes it impossible for students to remain after school for extra help. If elected, I will endeavor to establish a "late bus" which is available (even 1 day a week) to ensure that every CH-UH student has access to after school support. Finally, the state of Ohio currently forecasts that our schools will lose roughly 2% of our enrollment each year for the foreseeable future. We must develop a plan to stabilize, and then increase enrollment.
It is true that enhancements were added to the Wiley swing space, and unanticipated issues at Heights High have left the Middle School portion of the renovation budget somewhat lower than originally expected. However, I don’t think that pointing accusatory fingers of blame at people will help solve the problem. Our Board of Education needs to learn from previous mistakes, and move forward together. Our middle schools are still going to receive exciting upgrades, with updated tech and electrical systems, A/C in every classroom and new flooring and paint throughout. It is also worth recognizing that our Bond Accountability Commission has now been seated, and will begin the important work of monitoring the costs and expenses associated with the middle school renovations.
Ohio's methods for "evaluating" teachers, schools and students create unnecessary institutional and financial burdens, while falsely pretending to provide "apples to apples" comparisons which are fundamentally misleading. Charters and vouchers improperly funnel public funds into private entities. Last year's levy brings roughly $5.8 million new dollars to our budget, yet we are paying over $7.6 million annually for students to attend charter and voucher schools. Our district has not done nearly enough to resist these policies or to ensure that those students actually live in our district. If elected, I will call for a residency audit to be conducted annually. I will also call for an ongoing marketing campaign directed toward all children (charter, private, parochial...) who are not attending our schools. Our schools provide an excellent education. If we do a better job of telling our story, I am convinced that we can attract many of these neighbors back into our classrooms.
Age 51
Education MFA in Technical Design & Production, Yale School of Drama 1997; AB in English & American Literature, Harvard & Radcliffe Colleges 1987; International Baccalaureate, Ecole Active Bilingue, Paris France 1983
Campaign Phone (216) 513-4229
No one on the Board has children currently in our schools. Both my children are in 11th grade at Heights High; and I have been active at every level of the District since they began pre-school at Milliken. As a theatre professional I learned strict adherence to schedules and timelines; tight budget & personnel management; union contract negotiations; and, especially, how to balance competing interests within limited resources and maintain a congenial work environment in stressful situations. I would bring all these skills to the CH-UH School Board. There are no easy solutions when it comes to issues of finances, testing, and accountability. I continually educate myself on national and state education policy and understand that local school boards can no longer focus solely on their own districts. CH-UH must work with other school boards in the region and Ohio to change the way legislators in Columbus have been undermining public education.
Achievement Gap: Increase current efforts to improve equity of opportunity and support across the District. The achievement gap between African-American and white students has many components. The District has enacted initiatives in the past, but only recently has equity become a guiding principle with the District’s Strategic Plan. Internal & External Communication: Change external perceptions of our District by addressing achievement gap, and by providing alternatives to State Report Card to show successful educational outcomes. Reach out to large employers, preschools, real estate agents, and to families sending their children to charter, private, & parochial schools. District families & staff should be better informed about policy & personnel changes. PTAs should serve as conduits for information dissemination in all directions. Reach out to larger subsets of our population and to everyone when appropriate. State Funding: Change State policies which syphon off public tax money.
Regardless of how the High School construction project was managed, we must celebrate the benefits to our community of such a gorgeous facility. Going forward, the Board & Administration must put the remaining bond money to best use. Both buildings need reliable, updated, & energy efficient mechanical systems in order to serve our children in the future. There will likely be fewer visible, esthetic improvements than originally envisioned for the middle schools; but those are less important than HVAC, electrical supply, and plumbing fixtures. Before starting the elementary school phase, we must revisit the assumptions and projections underlying our master facilities plan, including building grade configurations. Those were left off the table at the beginning of this process. After community input, the Board should make decisions for the greater good of the whole District. Now is the time best match infrastructure and academic structure to serve our existing and future student body.
State Report Cards are reductivist. The Board can empower the District to rely less on standardised test for all evaluations, but only if there is strong community support. Public schools provide free and appropriate education to each child who walks in the door. For twenty years, charters have used public money for privately run schools which do not have to meet State standards the way public schools do. More recently, EDChoice vouchers have taken more and more of our State tax dollars to subsidise private education. This leaves public schools with an ever increasing budget gap which can only be made up through local real estate taxes. Public education is being undermined by this shift of public money away from the common good. I will continue current School Board members' work to counter this destructive trend by advocating with other school districts for changes to State policy—with regards to both testing and funding. We must prevent legislators from undermining public education.
Age 50
Education Bachelor's of Science degree in Public Relations from Kent State University and a Master's degree in Business Administration from John Carroll University
Campaign Phone (216) 397-7424
I have 25 years of experience in marketing and communications. As a department manager, I’m responsible for making thoughtful decisions to achieve goals, managing a budget, operating within limited resources and hiring and managing a team. I hold a B.S. Degree in Public Relations from Kent State and an MBA from John Carroll. I’m a 22-year resident of University Heights and a parent in the district. My son attended Gearity, Boulevard and Monticello. I believe I'm the only candidate who brings a perspective from both the east and north ends of our district. I want to strengthen the relationship between UH and our schools. I’m running because our community depends on strong schools. The painful school closings and reductions we’ve gone through result from declining enrollment. I believe we can change this. As a member of the BoE, I have a Plan for the Future: Attract and retain families, improve communications, ensure fiscal responsibility and collaborate with our city governments.
I support programs that target interventions for children who need additional academic support so we can improve our score on the state report card. This takes time. Meanwhile, we should produce an additional report to the community that shows where we are performing well, but isn’t reflected on the state report card. Our BoE needs to work with other urban districts to influence what measures are included on the state report card. Too many existing measures are heavily influenced by socioeconomic status and transiency, unfairly penalizing inner-ring public schools. However, we cannot continue to use poverty and transiency as an excuse. We need to continue to bring wraparound services to students to address the effects of poverty and transiency. I plan to build coalitions that communicate the value of public education, attract and retain families to our district, and align community resources and organizations to provide programs for the education, safety and well-being of our children.
One reason the high school project went over budget is because on the advice of the Owner’s Rep firm, the project was started with only 50 percent of the drawings completed. During construction, unforeseen issues resulted in change orders and cost overruns. As a member of the BoE, I would advocate for waiting for completed drawings before starting the middle school renovations. With fewer funds than planned, the BoE will have to make thoughtful choices on what renovations to invest in. I would prioritize items that have a direct impact on educational outcomes and the safety and well-being of our children over ones that focus on aesthetics and historic preservation. This phase of the project must stay on budget and demonstrate value. Our community needs to gain value from the high school before it will invest in more renovations. As a member of the BoE, I would look for every opportunity ensure the new high school is used as public asset for as many people in the community as possible.
I’m against high-stakes testing to evaluate teachers, schools and students. Too many factors influence how a child or school performs to measure with a single test and draw direct correlations. Whether we agree or not with school choice, it’s the current environment we are faced with. As such, we need to communicate the value and educational advantages our public schools offer in unique programs and extracurricular activities so families are making an informed choice about schools. We need to interest families in considering and choosing Heights. Attracting and retaining families will help stem the flow of money that’s leaving our district. In addition, our BoE needs to partner with other districts across the state to pressure our legislature and governor to regulate and hold charter and private schools accountable for academic performance and financial management, as well as to create a constitutional method for the thorough and efficient funding of public schools.

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