CUYAHOGA FALLS — The Cuyahoga Falls City Schools now has a business advisory council, although its appointment was not smooth.

The Cuyahoga Falls school board voted 3-2 to appoint seven area business people to its new group. Those appointed include Lou Ciraldo, Bart Mandala, Bob Gruber, Laura Petrella, Allen Mangus, Ron Hyre and Keith Veirs. The council also would include Superintendent Todd Nichols and two school board members.

Board President Karen Schofield, Board Vice President Kathy Moffet and Board member Patrice White voted for the council nominations, and Board members David Martin and Anthony Gomez voted against.

Gomez had proposed adding a realtor to the council, even if it meant eliminating one of the proposed members.

"Having a realtor would be good for a school district," Gomez said. Since the board could only have 10 members, he proposed making room for a realtor by removing Gruber, whom Gomez said met weekly with Schofield and Moffet on their campaigns.

Both Schofield and Moffet denied Gruber met weekly with them or had anything to do with their campaigns. Gomez’s proposal was voted down 2-3, with Gomez and Martin voting for replacing Gruber with a realtor, and Schofield, Moffet and White voting against.

The council will meet at least four times a year. Two members are appointed by the school board president; the others are nominated by the superintendent, according to the district’s policy manual. Terms still have to be determined; the board members discussed having council members serve on two and three year terms to stagger appointing, or to have them serve on a rotating basis.

According to information provided by the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Revised code requires districts and educational service centers to have such a council. The role of the business advisory council is to "advise local school districts on changes in the economy and job market and the area in which future jobs are most likely to be available. The council also should advocate for the skills needed to business and industry, and help develop curriculum to teach these skills, and to help develop a working relationship among businesses, labor organizations and educators."

Heat days

Martin asked the administration if it was feasible to increase the amount of air conditioned spaces in the schools as the district closed schools Sept. 5 due to the heat.

Joseph Bagatti, director of business and operations, said that rewiring the schools to adequately accommodate air conditioning, plus the other work that would be required "would cost millions." Bagatti said the high school alone would cost roughly $14 million to install air conditioning. Bolich Middle School would cost nearly $4.6 million, and Roberts Middle School would cost about $4.45 million. The cost for the elementary schools range from about $1.8 million to nearly $2.9 million.

Martin suggested the policy committee review the procedures calling for closing the schools during extreme heat conditions, and consider lowering the threshold from a heat index of 105 to 95, adding that the buildings and classrooms, due to their configuration, could be much warmer than an outdoor heat index would reflect.

Two parents and a student spoke before the board and agreed that looking at procedures on closing the schools in extreme heat. One parent suggested allowing students water bottles on hot days when school is in session. 

Changes to graduation requirements

The board heard a presentation on new graduation requirements for the Class of 2019. Curriculum and instruction coordinator Julie Dudones said she was disappointed that the state is "taking away options from our students."

According to information from the Ohio Department of Education, students previously had a range of standards they could select to meet graduation requirements. 

This year’s senior graduation requirements, according to ODE, include earning at least 20 credits. Student options beyond that are less wide ranging and include the following:

• Earn at least 18 points on seven end-of course state tests, which include Algebra 1 or Integrated Math 1; Geometry or Integrated Math II; American Government; American History; English I, English II and Biology. Students "must have a minimum of four points in math, four points in English and six points across science and social studies."

• Students can earn "a minimum of 12 points by receiving a State Board of Education-approved, industry-recognized credential or group of credentials in a single career field and earn the required score on WorkKeys, a work-readiness test." The state will pay once for a student to take the WorkKeys test.

• Earn remediation-free scores in math and English on either the ACT or SAT.

Bus schedule approved

The school board voted 4-1 to approve the 2018-19 school bus schedule. Martin voted against it.

Bagatti said there were more group stops, as opposed to individual home stops, this year, which will increase efficiency. Martin questioned the safety of group stops in some areas, especially in the wintertime.

Executive session

After the regular meeting, which lasted just under three hours, the school board went into executive session for roughly two hours "for the purpose of considering the discipline of an employee or official of the School District," as stated on the agenda. They adjourned at 10:55 p.m. without taking action following the executive session.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC