Board hires new high school principal

by Laura Bednar

June 29 board of education special meeting

The Independence Local Schools Board of Education hired Michael Janatovich as the next principal of Independence High School, replacing Jamie Hogue, now principal at Orange High School.

“Mike stood out with an excellent reputation of school leadership,” said Superintendent Ben Hegedish. “[His] passion and authenticity are two of the things that [make us] excited about having him come on board.”

Janatovich comes to the district from Chagrin Falls High School, where he was principal. Prior to that, he was the principal of Cuyahoga Heights middle and high school, assistant principal at Harmon Middle School in the Aurora School District, and the assistant principal, athletic director and middle school science teacher at Cuyahoga Heights Schools.

During his time at Chagrin Falls, Janatovich played a large part in developing the district’s strategic plan, according to a press release. He was also involved in Cuyahoga Heights’ strategic plan, implemented a teacher leadership collaborative there and developed a master schedule including 14 AP classes.

Janatovich received his Bachelor of Science from Baldwin Wallace College in middle childhood education and a Masters of Science from Indiana Wesleyan University in curriculum and instruction, according to the release. He received principal licensure from Baldwin Wallace University and superintendent and educational leadership licensure from The University of Findlay. Janatovich was also named the Chagrin Valley Conference president.

“Independence is truly a special place, a place that cares about the community, cares about the kids and supports the schools and teachers,” said Janatovich. “This is a place I want to be and my family wants to be embedded as well.”

He added that he enjoys attending Independence sporting events with his wife Christina and two children, Abigail and Gavin, as they all live nearby in Broadview Heights.

Levy discussion

Board members continued their discussion on trying again to pass a levy, this time on the November ballot. Treasurer Eric Koehler said breaking the levy renewal and increase into two separate issues could be helpful and avoid the confusion that the proposed May levy caused. Board member Ron Bernstein agreed that the ballot language was confusing.

“Either way, there’s going to be deficit spending if we don’t pass both of them,” said board member Lynne Laski.

Koehler added that if the district did not hire another school resource officer or offer preschool for free, as was planned with the original increase, the proposed increase could drop from $3 million to $2.5 million.

Board member Carrie Sears asked how long a $1.5-million renewal would last. Koehler said that amount would last approximately four to five years, along with budget adjustments and no new programming.

Hegedish described the adjustments as “operational tweaks for efficiencies that the average resident, student and employee wouldn’t notice.”

He said the goal is to extend the life of the money as long as possible so the district doesn’t have to constantly return to the voters.

Sears stated she was concerned about the length of time between asking voters for an increase and coming back to them if the district wants to build a new school building.

Koehler said the levy renewal must be on the ballot if nothing else. The board discussed setting the increase amount at $1.5 million or $2 million. A final decision will be made at the board’s July 10 meeting.


All three school buildings will receive new security cameras. U.S Communications & Electric Inc. will supply and install new cameras for $148,873. Quadstar Digital Guidance will upgrade the camera servers for $53,530. Koehler said the cost is covered through a $283,000 Ohio K-12 safety grant the district received. ∞

Photo: Michael Janatovich. Photo courtesy of Charlene Paparizos.