Two levies to be on November ballot

by Laura Bednar

July 26 board of education special meeting

The Independence Local Schools Board of Education sent two levies to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to be placed on the Nov. 7 ballot as separate issues.

The first is the renewal of an 8.19-mill emergency operating levy that annually produces $4.25 million and would cost property owners $286 per $100,000 of valuation, according to the resolution.

The second levy raises an additional $2 million, which equates to 3.85 mills. District residents would pay $135 for each $100,000 of property valuation. This levy will produce $1 million less than the $3 million requested in May and does not include additional programming such as an additional school resource officer or tuition-free preschool.

Both levies would be in place for 10 years.

Superintendent Ben Hegedish said the district plans to hold multiple town hall meetings this fall to educate the community about the levies.

Gender neutral bathrooms

Assistant Superintendent Tom Dreiling discussed the ongoing project of constructing gender neutral bathrooms at the high school. He said the current issue is determining how high each individual stall needs to be. If it were from floor to ceiling, each stall would need its own exhaust fan, light and smoke detector.

Board member Ron Bernstein said having the stalls from floor to ceiling would be the best option, especially if there are males and females in stalls next to each other. Hegedish agreed saying, “It leaves less room for shenanigans.”

Board member Carrie Sears voiced frustration because the bathroom project was not complete before the school year starts.

“We’ve been talking about this for several months,” she said. “We are starting the school year the same place we were in the spring. We are not providing a safe space for every individual in the school.”

Hegedish said the gender-neutral bathroom would be finished in the first quarter. In the meantime, he noted there are communal bathrooms that align with biological gender and a communal bathroom that a transgender student currently uses. There are also four private bathrooms available for transgender students or those with medical issues.

Board member Lynne Laski told Sears there are regulations that need to be considered, and it is a slow-moving process.

Dreiling agreed, saying he got feedback from the high school principal and other administrators. Hegedish said the district is following state law and creating the gender-neutral bathroom is an adequate “meet in the middle solution.”

Other facility upgrades underway are installing security cameras at each school and a security vestibule at the primary school.

Joe Durny, middle school athletic director, will also become interim high school athletic director. Hegedish said there has been no decision about Durny continuing in both roles or if a new middle school AD will be hired. ∞