Disaster plan vote cast by school board

New data expert hired, graduation contract inked

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com

Protecting records from fire or natural disasters looks to be a time-intensive and costly process for the Amherst board of education.

The effort would mean scanning an estimated 2.5 million sheets of paper at a ballpark cost of $103,000.

School board members voted Monday to hire SC Strategic Solutions of Hinckley, Ohio, to evaluate what records must legally be kept and for how long.

Most importantly, the firm will be tasked with figuring out exactly how much it will cost to back up records to the cloud.

Amherst educators’ concerns were fanned by a March 14 fire at the Willoughby-Eastlake Schools board office. Deemed accidental, the blaze gutted the 102-year-old estate where about 40 district employees worked.

The Amherst board office on Forest Street has some fireproof file cabinets, but not all sensitive documents are kept where they would be safe in an emergency.

Administrative offices will relocate when the new Powers Elementary School opens in Fall 2019. Superintendent Steven Sayers said now is the time to back up documents so they don’t have to be moved.

The district has already started scanning many items such as seniors’ permanent records. And at the start of 2017, the treasurer’s office started using a computer system that automatically creates digital copies of its documents.

The decision to hire Strategic Solutions was one of many handled by the board this month:

• Jenna Porostosky was hired as the district’s new Education Management Information System coordinator.

A 2004 graduate of Amherst Steele High School, she holds a degree in strategy and marketing from Ohio University. She spent the past several years in the private sector but “sought a more meaningful position” in education, according to Sayers.

Porostosky will step into the shoes of Patti Killen, who will retire Dec. 20.

The EMIS coordinator collects and manages data that must be reported to the Ohio Department of Education. Such information includes attendance, course information, financial data, test results, and student demographics.

• The board adopted a resolution supporting Ohio Senate Bill 216, or the Education Deregulation Bill.

Calling it “a step in the right direction,” Sayers said the bill seeks to streamline and remove much of the educational red tape that legislators have put in place over the years.

“All too often what sounds like a good idea in Columbus translates instead to burdensome paperwork and tedious tasks that distract teachers and superintendents from their primary role in our schools — educating students,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) told AIM Media Midwest in October.

The bill targets 100 rules controlling state testing, teacher evaluations, student management and safety, preschool operating standards, teacher licensure, and aide permits.

• A contract was signed with Cleveland State University to hold the Class of 2018 commencement ceremony once more at the Wolstein Center.

Steele graduation has been held at the downtown Cleveland venue for years because it offers virtually unlimited seating for Amherst families. Inclement weather is also not a concern at the indoor event center.

But in 2016 officials learned the Wolstein Center could be demolished to make way for more student housing. University trustees delayed those plans this summer, turning its attention instead to questions about parking revenue.

• A change in trash pick-up at Amherst’s school properties was announced.

Chuck Grimmett, head of buildings and grounds for the district, evaluated how garbage was being collected by Allied Waste. He found dumpsters were often being emptied when they were nowhere close to being full.

Pick-ups have been reduced to three times a week when the dumpsters are filled.

“Just a little thing like this will result in a savings of $7,000 per year,” said Sayers.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

New data expert hired, graduation contract inked

By Jason Hawk