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Building/Bond Questions

Pre-Kindergarten Questions


Q. How many children will be in the Pre-K program?

In Fall 2023, the district plans to add one pre-K classroom to Onaway Elementary School, bringing student numbers from approximately 90 to approximately 105. Based on current assessments, the Ludlow School building may also hold up to 300 Pre-K students. The total number of students in the expanded Pre-K program will vary depending on the type of classroom and whether they are full-day or half-day. The district is monitoring the demand for half-day and full day-programs.


Q: How much will the PreK program cost individual families?

The district is currently conducting an analysis of community early childhood program costs and pricing structures and is also evaluating the total cost of the program as compared to possible tuition contributions. The district will have several levels of payment available so that every preschool-age child living in Shaker Heights will have an opportunity to have a high-quality, affordable Pre-K experience. 


Q: How will the district partner with other pre-K providers?

The district has met with the leaders from local early childhood programs for collaborative conversations and is committed to partnering with local providers. The group has discussed facilitating shared communication, working on a common understanding of kindergarten readiness and potentially doing shared professional learning. Those conversations are expected to continue this summer and beyond.


Building/Bond-Specific Questions


Q: What does the Shaker Heights City School District’s Long-Term Master Facilities Plan include?

The school district’s Long-Term Master Facilities Plan includes:

  • Segment 1

    • Renovate Ludlow Elementary School to accommodate expanded Pre-K program

    • Renovate and expand Woodbury as a Middle Years Building (Grades 6-8)

    • Renovate Boulevard, Lomond, Mercer and Onaway Elementary Schools and include Grade 5

    • Build addition to Fernway Elementary School to accommodate Grade 5

  • Segment 2

    • Build new High School near current campus site

The November 2023 ballot issue only addresses Segment 1 of the Long-Term Master Facilities Plan.


Q: What has been the commitment to maintaining the school buildings?  Why hasn’t the school district kept the buildings up-to-date?

The district has always been committed to maintaining safe and clean learning and teaching environments and the custodial staff does a great job maintaining the aging buildings. A warm, safe and dry levy was passed in 2017 in order to provide funds for ongoing capital maintenance needs for the district’s school buildings. However, additional renovations and improvements are needed for the aging buildings beyond the regular maintenance allowed for in the annual operating budget. Additionally, the current school buildings are difficult to configure for modern learning needs and cannot be retrofitted to include the addition of air conditioning and modern climate control systems without major modifications.

Q. Is there a way to use more portable AC units to make Middle School and High School more bearable?  Can the electrical systems handle the load? 

No. The age and limitations of the electrical systems make the building-wide use of portable or window AC units unfeasible.


Q. What sort of security enhancements will the renovations support?

Security enhancements will likely include building entrances designed to modern safety standards, improved emergency response structures such as room numbers displayed externally, improvements to fire code and alarm systems, improvements to traffic flow for dropoff and pickup locations, upgrades to entry and exit points and upgrades to security camera infrastructure.


Q: How will the facilities update affect learning in the current bond issues passes in November 7, 2023?

New facilities will improve learning and teaching environments as well as safety needs. Students learn better in a safe and comfortable environment. The priorities the district has for its students are the drivers of the long-term facilities plan. These priorities include:

  • Academic excellence for all students

  • Social and emotional health

  • Supports for students with disabilities

  • Common, collaborative learning spaces

  • Access to modern technology and learning tools 


Q: What are the differences between bond/capital issues and operating levies?

Bond issues and operating levies are among the ways in which public school districts in Ohio can raise money. Both are paid through property taxes and require approval from voters who live within the district’s boundaries. 


A bond issue raises money that, by law, can be used only for capital costs — building construction and/or renovations, as well as vehicle and equipment purchases.


An operating levy generates money to pay a district’s operating costs, such as salaries, educational programs, activities and more. Under Ohio's system of school funding, tax levies do not increase with inflation, requiring districts to return to voters periodically with new requests to keep up with rising costs. 


Q: What is included in the bond issue that will appear on the November 2023 ballot? 

While there are three parts to the ballot issue, there is only one vote needed. The first part of the issue is authorization to issue bonds for renovation and construction (6.4 mills); the second part is a 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy that the state requires the District to have to provide maintenance funds for the new/renovated buildings in the Long-Term Master Facilities Plan; and the last part is a 3.0-mill operating levy to provide funding for the expanded PreK program.

Q: Where does the next operating levy fit in? What is the potential calendar of the facilities asks and an operating ask?

The next operating levy will depend on the outcome of the 3.0-mill PreK operating levy in November. The District’s current Five-Year Forecast, which assumes passage of the 3.0 mill PreK operating levy, projects the next full operating levy to be in 2026, which would make it twelve years since the passage of the last full operating levy in 2014. The District will continue to monitor expenditures to ensure strong fiscal stewardship and will make adjustments to this schedule if needed. The Long-Term Master Facilities Plan’s second segment and subsequent ballot issue is currently planned for after the completion of Segment 1.


Q: When is the next operating levy?

The next operating levy will depend on the outcome of the 3.0-mill Pre-K operating levy in November. The district’s current Five-Year Forecast, which assumes passage of the 3.0 mill Pre-K operating levy, projects the next full operating levy to be in 2026, making it 12 years since the passage of the last full operating levy in 2014. The district will continue to monitor expenditures to ensure strong fiscal stewardship and will make adjustments to this schedule if needed. 


The Long-Term Master Facilities Plan’s second segment – which will address the Shaker Heights High School building – and subsequent ballot issue is currently planned for after the completion of Segment 1.


Q: When was the last operating levy?

Shaker Heights voters passed a 6.9-mill operating levy in May 2014. Under Ohio's system of school funding, tax levies do not go up with inflation, requiring districts to return to voters periodically with new requests to keep up with rising costs. Typically, districts place an operating levy on the ballot every three to five years. The last time that the Shaker Heights City School District had an operating levy on the ballot was in 2014. 


Q: When was the last bond issue?

The last bond issue was approved by voters in May 2017 and raised $30 million for a variety of capital needs that only addressed the needs of our buildings to keep students warm, safe and dry. This included roof replacements, chiller and boiler repairs, required ADA improvements, electrical system upgrades, enhanced security features and ongoing maintenance of buildings.  


Q: What happens if this bond issue doesn’t pass?

The district is committed to a Long-Term Master Facilities Plan that meets the needs of all district students, staff and the community. Even if the bond issue doesn’t pass, additional capital maintenance funds would be required to maintain district facilities in their current state. Should the bond issue not pass in November, the district will evaluate feedback and develop next steps.


Q: Why is the fund balance so high, and why don’t you just use that for construction?

A number of different factors have led to the district’s fund balance increasing over the last several years. Those factors include the availability of federal COVID-response funding and other funding sources, the reduction of costs during the pandemic (such as transportation) and fiscal management.

Based on current planning, the district does intend to leverage some of the general fund to help pay for the Master Facilities Plan. The district’s Long-Term Master Facilities Plan also takes advantage of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) 37% co-funding of most of the construction costs. Information about the fund balance can be found in the district’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the Five-Year Forecast

The OFCC is committed to co-fund eligible costs in Segment 2, provided that the District implements a long-term master facilities plan that addresses the needs of all school buildings. 


Q: How much will the bond issue cost me personally?

Bonds for Segment 1 will be issued in up to three tranches, or portions. Consequently, it is important to note that the tax levy for the bonds will also be spread out over the construction period and will not be levied all at once. Given this, and the 1.5 district mills from a 2004 bond issue dropping off in 2025, the maximum net bond levy estimated cost for a $100,000 county appraised market value home would be $296 on an annual basis, but this will vary by year. For year-by-year detail on segmenting and budgeting, please view the Segmenting & Bond Issue Scenario document


Additionally, you can calculate the total property tax increase you will experience if the bond issue passes. First, locate Cuyahoga County’s appraised market value of your Shaker Heights home at You can do this by searching by owner name, parcel number or street address. On the property data page, scroll to the taxes section and click “Summary By Tax Year.” Under “Market Values,” you will find the total value that Cuyahoga County has assessed your home to be based on the current market. The assessed market value of your home is what is used to determine your yearly property tax owed. With that total assessed value amount, use the Building Shaker Schools bond issue calculator to determine your annual, monthly, weekly and daily tax increase investment that will fund the district’s master facilities plan.

Q. What is the rough estimated cost of Segment 2?

Current cost estimates for Segment 2 range from approximately $86.5 million to approximately $145 million. However, these estimates will need to be refined and revised when the District is prepared to move forward with Segment 2 because of unknown fluctuations related to inflation, labor costs and other variables.


Q: I rent my home in Shaker Heights. What does the master facilities plan mean for me financially?

If you live in Shaker Heights and rent your home, your landlord or property management company is responsible for determining how to handle the tax increase to their owned properties in the city.

Q: What has the district done to reduce expenses?

The district closely monitors expenses across all areas while also ensuring needed supports are provided for students and families. For detailed information regarding district expenses, please review the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and the Five-Year Forecast


Timeline Questions

Q: When will the Middle School close, and what will happen to the site?

The Middle School building will serve as swing space for students during the Segment 1 construction period. While plans are not yet finalized, after construction is completed for all buildings in Segment 1, the Middle School building will likely be razed. Discussions are ongoing with the City of Shaker Heights to determine the final plans for the site, but will likely include outdoor and possibly indoor recreational spaces. The site will not be available for such development until 2031 or later, based on the Segment 1 construction timeline.

Q: When will the school(s) my child attends (or will attend) be renovated?

Based on current plans for Segment 1 of the Long-Term Master Facilities Plan , the District expects to complete construction on Ludlow by 2025 and Woodbury by 2027. The District also expects two elementary buildings to be completed by 2029 and the remaining two by 2031. Fernway will also need an addition to accommodate Grade 5 students. The order of renovation of the current K-4 schools is yet to be determined. The second segment will be a future ballot issue and will address the High School.

Q. What is being done to ensure a generation of Shaker students do not spend their elementary and secondary education in under-construction buildings and temporary spaces?

The District’s current draft construction schedule for Segment 1 of the Long-Term Master Facilities Plan includes the following:

  • Renovate Ludlow to accommodate expanded PreK program (2023-2025)

  • Renovate and expand Woodbury as a Grades 6-8 Middle Years Building (2025-2027)

  • Renovate two elementary school buildings (2027-2029)

  • Renovate two elementary school buildings (2029-2031)

  • Build addition to Fernway to accommodate Grade 5 (TBD)

This schedule was designed to try to limit the amount of disruption experienced by our students and families. The draft schedule for Segment 1 will continue to be refined as the planning and design process moves forward. 
The second segment will be a future ballot issue and will address the High School.



General School Questions


Q. What specifically was done in Fernway?  

After the fire, the interior of Fernway was stripped down to the studs. The only thing that remained from the original building was the exterior walls. Classrooms were enlarged. New heating and cooling systems were installed. Energy efficient lighting was installed building-wide. Modern bathrooms were put in place. A modern library, design space and lunch room/multi purpose room were added. An elevator was installed to give access to all students and staff to the second floor. A safety vestibule was added at the main entrance. The exterior of Fernway retained its historic facade. 

Q: How many district employees are student-facing?

In 2022, the district had 843 full-time equivalent employees. A breakdown of staff members by position is available in the Treasurer’s Office’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.  Additional information can also be found in the January 2023 Human Resources presentation to the Board of Education.


Q: What has been detracked? How is the detracking program going? How is the district retaining its rigorous curriculum?

The district ended the practice of tracking students in Grades 5-8, with the aim of creating inclusive and heterogeneous classrooms that benefit all students. This vision is exemplified by the “Algebra for All” initiative, which is the district’s commitment that all students are prepared to take Algebra I in the 8th grade. 


At the High School, the district continues to offer a wide variety of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) courses, and the district’s detracking initiative is aimed at ensuring more students are prepared for these advanced courses.


Q: What happened to Forward Together and how does the school district’s master facilities plan connect to it?

In 2019, the three taxing authorities in Shaker Heights – the City of Shaker Heights, the Shaker Heights City School District and the Shaker Heights Public Library – came together to develop a shared vision for facilities. The Forward Together initiative continues to provide opportunities for community engagement and dialogue that directly inform the district’s development of a Long-Term Master Facilities Plan. The district, city and library continue to work in concert on the community’s facilities needs.

Timeline Questions
General School Questions
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