Bill Clawson and Rueben Harris will join the Shaker Heights School Board come January 2012, as Shaker voters decided Nov. 8.
When all precincts had reported, Clawson had 6,341 votes, while Harris, with 4,588 votes, pulled ahead of incumbent Peter Robertson, who had 4,342 votes.
Post-election, both Harris and Clawson reiterated a similar goal. Clawson emphasized the need for all students new to the district to be ready to learn at the level of their peers who are achieving. “It is very important as our district student base changes that we focus on catching kids up,” said Clawson. “Our community relies on the schools to attract new residents . . . We’ve got to get our achievement up for everyone.”
Harris’ agreed that new students may require extra help. “There would have to be some intervention for students who come into the district with inadequate skill sets to be effective,” he said.
He also said his primary focus is the achievement gap. “My basic concern is how to find a way to improve expectations and outcomes for all students and become a model for other districts in closing the achievement gap,” he said. In order to build a plan that would address the achievement gap, Harris said that the board should look at success models nationally and locally to find what would best fit Shaker schools.
Clawson also expressed concern about community involvement in the school system. “I think the community is giving us some messages that say that it’s time [we] do something differently,” he said. “It is so very important that the community is more engaged in how we approach our educational processes.”
No matter their goals, both men will as board members confront difficult budget questions. “Financial challenges we’re going to have require us to think differently,” Clawson said. “We may need to get more grants . . . The community is very stretched on property taxes. We’re going to have to find other ways to reduce costs.”
A version of this article appeared in print on 21 November 2011, on page 3 of The Shakerite.