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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Message to Families From Superintendent Kirby - November 24, 2020

November 24, 2020
 
Dear CH-UH Families,

I’m writing to share a summary of last night’s Board of Education meeting, as well as a few other District updates as we head into Thanksgiving break.
 
Resolutions regarding teachers union notice to strike
On November 20, the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union gave the District a notice of their intent to strike beginning on December 2. I am deeply saddened and disheartened that we have arrived at this point. I am sorry that the teachers feel that this is their only option, even after months of bargaining. I do not claim to understand their decision to strike and I still hold out hope that a strike can be averted for our students’ sake. No matter what, I most certainly respect them and their right as public employees to do so. 
 
During last night’s meeting, the Board voted to allow my team and me to implement an action plan should a teachers strike begin. This includes creating online learning plans, sending hard-copy learning packets to families, and hiring substitute employees to support the work while teachers are striking. We have maintained that students’ education can and will continue during a strike. The education of your children is unequivocally my main concern throughout this situation. Further details regarding academics during a strike will be shared before the end of the week.
 
We’ve received quite a few questions about the law regarding the stoppage of pay and benefits for teachers who strike, beginning on the first day of their strike.  states that “no public employee is entitled to pay or compensation from the public employer for the period engaged in any strike.” The Ohio Supreme Court has held that compensation includes benefits like health insurance, sick leave, and vacation pay. Employees may continue their health benefits through COBRA, even during the period of a strike.
 
While this was an incredibly difficult resolution for the Board to pass, the Board recognizes its legal obligation to do so. Neglecting to pass such a resolution and instead pay striking employees could trigger a challenge from the Auditor of State. That could lead to serious audit and recovery consequences for the District, putting the District’s and its employees’ finances in even greater jeopardy. 
 
I know you’ve been hearing a lot of things on social media surrounding this subject, but having the facts is important. I encourage you to visit our strike information page, which contains continuously updated information regarding academics, FAQ documents, and teacher pay impact examples. 
 
Stay-at-home advisory resolution
Due to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health’s issuance of a  on November 18, the District instituted a high-alert plan for staff. At the Board meeting, I recommended the following, which was then passed as a resolution by the Board.
 
  • The CH-UH City School District will institute a high-alert plan through December 17, when the advisory is scheduled to expire, unless otherwise determined by the District. 
  • In-person instruction for our students in the MD/AU classes suspended until Friday, December 18.
  • Student supervision services provided by Right at School and Open Doors Academy will continue.
  • All sports practices and games suspended until further notice. Revisit sports decision the week of December 7.
To be clear, this is not a shutdown; the school system is an essential business that remains open, including our student instruction and classes, and the operation of our District buildings and facilities. Our goal is to help limit the spread of the virus during this surge of COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County.
 
The  released by the Ohio Department of Health show that Cuyahoga County remains at Level 3 (red) with high incidence and four of the seven indicators met.
 
Issue 69 certified results expected after holiday
We were pleased to learn that the  from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections show that Issue 69, our school levy, has passed by 135 votes. An automatic recount has been triggered by this slim margin. According to the Board of Elections, the  began this morning and we expect the results after Thanksgiving. We trust the process and await the final, certified results of the election. 
 
Fair School Funding Plan - support needed by the end of the year
As I’ve discussed in recent letters, the Ohio General Assembly is discussing the , a bipartisan plan that was first proposed in 2019. The plan proposes to overhaul the way state funding for school districts is calculated and distributed, aiming for less reliance on property taxes and helping districts provide the highest quality education possible for each child. 
 
I testified in committee in favor of this bill on November 17 (view  at 4:52:01) and Board of Education President Jodi Sourini submitted testimony, which can be viewed . The CH-UH Board of Education  in support during their work session that same evening. Additional hearings in both the House and Senate Finance Committees are expected to be scheduled the first week of December.
 
You can support the Fair School Funding Plan by writing to state legislators () and using  as a template. Handwritten or printed, mailed letters generally have greater impact than an email, although an email is still greatly appreciated and worthwhile. Calling is effective as well; the legislators’ phone numbers are listed on their web pages, which are linked in the contact list. It is critical that we contact legislators, especially senators, and stress the importance of passing the Fair School Funding Plan before the end of the year. 
 
I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday and continue to stay safe. Regardless of what new challenge we may face, I am thankful every day for Tiger Nation - our resilient students, staff, families and community.
 
Sincerely,
Superintendent Kirby

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