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Highland board learns results of new building surveys

4/20/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Scott Kriska

Caroline Rado, at left, and Vanessa Tey Iosue, of Burges & Burges Strategists, shared the results of several surveys taken within the Highland Local Schools community regarding the proposal to build new elementary and middle school buildings in the district.
Photo: Scott Kriska
The Highland Local Schools Board of Education heard a presentation at the board’s meeting April 17 regarding the results of surveys taken about proposals for new school buildings.

The district held eight sessions in February so community members could provide feedback regarding the district’s aging facilities. Superintendent Catherine Aukerman has said current options are to maintain the elementary schools’ current facilities, to replace each elementary school building with new ones, to replace three schools with two schools or to consolidate all elementary schools into one larger building.

Vanessa Tey Iosue and Caroline Rado, of Burges & Burges Strategists, shared the results of discussions at those listening sessions with more than 100 participants and said a majority of participants believed something must be done with the present condition of the schools and that the idea of building three new elementary school buildings was the preferred option.

The district also conducted a public online survey on its website. Iosue and Rado also discussed those results, which included 948 responses. Iosue and Rado explained 43 percent recommended the district build three new elementary schools, 23 percent recommended the district build two new elementary schools, 13 percent indicated support for any option, 13 percent favored one new elementary school and 9 percent did not recommend any option.

Iosue and Rado said the next step is for the district to conduct a telephone survey of members of the Highland community by the end of April.

Aukerman said the board will look at the data from the community in addition to financial and academic considerations before making a final decision.

For more information on the results, visit www.highland schools.org.

Board Vice President Robert Kelly wanted the public to know the process of creating the new school buildings could take three to five years and asked for the public’s patience.

“We understand the urgency of this project, but we’ve got to do this right,” he said. “This is going to take some time to do it right.”

In other business:

  • Linda Collins, of the Highland Foundation, announced several grants the foundation received this spring. She explained three of them are music grants, one for private lessons, one for a switchover instrument enrichment program and one for Beo String Quartet to perform with the Highland High School String Orchestra.
    Collins said another grant the foundation received will pay for a presentation by former Ohio State University football player Joel Penton, who will speak to Highland Middle School and Highland High School students in conjunction with his book, “Stand Your Ground.”
    She said a grant for a Great Lakes Theater residency program and a grant for the Highland Intercultural Program also were received.
  • Director of Curriculum Laurie Boedicker announced the district received the Trusted Learning Environment Seal from the Consortium for School Networking. She explained Highland is one of only 12 school districts in the United States to receive this award and said the seal is awarded to school systems that demonstrate a strong commitment to protecting student data privacy. Among the people Boedicker thanked for their efforts that earned Highland this seal were the principals of the schools and the parents of students in the Highland community. Boedicker said the seal will be displayed on the district’s website.
  • Aukerman reported Highland High School held the Prom Promise program for its juniors and seniors April 13. She said the program consisted of a mock traffic accident in the school’s rear parking lot and a presentation in the auditorium, coordinated to send a message to the students to celebrate prom safely and soberly. She expressed her thanks to the Medina County Sheriff’s Office, the local fire departments within the Highland community and Principal Dana Addis and Assistant Principal Carrie Knapp for coordinating the event. [For more on that, see photo feature on Page 1.]
    Aukerman acknowedged the resignation and retirement of several longtime employees of the district. She recognized the resignation of Addis, who was hired as superintendent of Norton City Schools. Aukerman also announced the resignation of Highland High School intervention specialist Victoria Boltja and Granger Elementary School kindergarten teacher Julianne Finley, in addition to the retirement of Highland High School counselor Craig Tasker and district groundskeeper Gary Loomis.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the following:

  • a bid from All American Tracks for $74,700 for the Highland Middle School track resurfacing project and the authorization of Treasurer Neil Barnes to execute a contract with the company;
  • the acceptance of Jeremy Miedler from Vienna, Austria, as a foreign exchange student and the waiving of all associated education fees for the 2017-18 school year;
  • various donations to the Highland High School track team, Sharon Elementary School and Highland Middle School;
  • the use of school facilities for various functions and waiving of associated fees;
  • contracts and agreements with American Heattek Corp., First Student and Circle Lawn Care; and
  • various personnel items.

The next Highland Board of Education meeting is scheduled for May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Media Center in Highland High School, located at 4150 Ridge Road.

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