A Message from the Shaker Heights Board of Education:
In 2016, the Shaker Schools have the opportunity to leverage local funds with a request for a partial State contribution toward major facilities projects. The State funds come with many regulations and requirements, but present an opportunity we could not ignore exploring. The Board is therefore acting now to decide whether to preserve our eligibility for state funds, although the Master Plan is still very much a work in progress.
Beginning in June of 2015 with an extensive Educational Visioning process and continuing through the most recent Community meeting on April 7, hundreds of people have attended community planning sessions and shared their thoughts and comments. This is a complex and ongoing process with many months of work yet to come. The ideas and feedback provided by the community have been extremely helpful in getting to this point and will continue to be helpful moving forward. The Board wishes to thank everyone who has been involved. The time, effort and thoughtfulness from all involved are greatly appreciated.
We have many project options, from foregoing State funds and continuing to make needed repairs and minor changes within our limited borrowing capacity, to utilizing some State funds where they will have the most impact including at our High School and either a new grades 7-8 middle school, or new middle years campus with separate wings for grades 5-6 and 7-8 with access to joint resources such as an auditorium and pool, along with updates to our K-4 buildings.
Community input thus far includes:
- The educational experience of our students — including their academic, social and emotional growth — will remain the primary focus of all decisions.
- The historic facades on our schools, which were constructed between 1914 (Boulevard) and 1957 (Shaker Middle School), should reflect community aesthetics.
- Each of our buildings, while currently “warm, safe and dry,” require some major maintenance in the coming years and would benefit from upgrades in technology, lighting, plumbing and climate control.
- Any request to increase property taxes must be based on true need and be balanced against the impact the taxes have on our families and City. Fiscal restraint has guided our actions for many years and will continue to do so.
- Our staff and our schools provide an excellent educational experience for our students, but frequently staff has to work against building design or outdated resources to fulfill the educational mission.
- Adjustments to electrical systems, flexible furniture and reconfiguring some spaces could enhance the learning environment in a cost-effective manner without changing the historic architecture.
- Our parents appreciate the current grade groupings of K-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12, yet community and staff are aware that enhanced coordination between the 5-6 and 7-8 buildings could offer several educational benefits to our students as well as create operating efficiencies.
- Shaker Middle School is the building most in need of both significant maintenance and reconfiguration. This is also on our largest campus, providing the most opportunity for new facilities as well as community-accessible resources.
- Our community values the current High School for both location and aesthetics, but the building would benefit from upgrades to enhance its usability and the student experience.
- There are cost and functional efficiencies which should be explored in centralizing our nonacademic facilities, such as administration, professional learning and information technology.
- Preserving flexibility in any Plan is important to ensure its final details best serve the needs of our staff, students and community.
Although a Master Plan may be submitted next month to the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the details of the Plan will continue to be studied and revised. We have been advised that it is easier to plan big now and scale back later. There will continue to be opportunities for public involvement based on future architectural work, feasibility studies and other information necessary to make final decisions before seeking voter approval of actual projects likely in May 2017.