Community Endorsements

Below are editorials and letters to the editor regarding Issue 3 and Nordonia Schools, as published in the local Nordonia Hills newspaper, The News Leader and elsewhere.

Nordonia's BIG ISSUE

By Aaron Smith, Sagamore Hills
Published on NordoniaHills.news
April 25, 2019

On May 7, my local school district, Nordonia Hills, will make its second attempt to pass Issue 3, its first levy since 2011. It’s been a contentious issue in the community and failed by a razor thin margin in November. I support the levy, just as I did last fall, and I hope my comments below might persuade a few of my fence-sitting neighbors to do the same.

Three years ago, my wife and I decided – very reluctantly – to move from our home of 13 years in Akron. We didn’t really want to move. We’d established firm roots – welcoming two daughters into the world, building close, lasting friendships with our neighbors, and turning our little white colonial on Ayers Avenue into the sort of home we’d always dreamed of. In short, we loved it.

What we didn’t love was the fact that our pothole-laden street rarely got plowed after heavy snow. Or that the police and fire departments were essentially non-entities the few times we needed their services (including a robbery and a power line-induced fire in our backyard, among a few other issues). And, most importantly of all, we couldn’t reconcile our comfort level with the state of the local schools (our oldest daughter was wrapping up her kindergarten year – at a private daycare – at the time).

So, we made the difficult decision to pull up those deep roots and move. We did our homework before beginning our new home search, focusing on several factors: public services; long-term property values and taxes; and, most critically, quality of schools. We visited properties in the Hudson, Stow-Munroe Falls and Nordonia districts before deciding to make an offer on a house in the heart of Nordonia in Sagamore Hills.

And we haven’t regretted it once. Nordonia is everything we hoped for and more. And I don’t say that lightly. Our daughter came into the system with some academic challenges – her language arts scores were bottom-of-the-chart low and her math skills were, at best, a year behind. In many school systems, she would have already been destined for failure before she ever sharpened her first pencil.

But not at Nordonia! Her first grade teacher at Northfield Elementary recognized her challenges immediately and worked with my wife and I to develop a focused academic plan, including extra help from the school’s reading intervention specialist. We received regular progress reports and guidance on things we could do at home to keep her on track. Any time we had questions, we got quick and thorough responses. It was clear her teacher considered her occupation more than just a job. She genuinely cared about our daughter and wanted to do everything she could to set her up for success – even if it meant putting in extra work beyond her regular responsibilities as an instructor of nearly 25 kids.

As first grade turned to second, and second to third, that trend continued. Our daughter continues to have challenges to be sure, but thanks to her remarkable teachers, her dedicated principal, her always-available guidance counselors, and notably, the continued “extracurricular” help (including ongoing reading intervention and an outside math tutor – who was recommended by the school), by the end of third grade, she’ll be somewhere in the “meaty” part of the curve even in her most difficult subjects.

That’s why Issue 3 is so important – and personal – to me. Failure means my daughter (and many other kids in the district) is unlikely to continue receiving such personalized attention. Larger class sizes, cuts to special academic programming and bigger burdens on a smaller administrative staff put her at risk of becoming just another “number.” Even the most devoted educators can only do so much as classes grow and resources shrink. Even kids with best-case academic situations will surely suffer.

As I’ve heard and read the arguments against the levy, most seem to follow some common refrains: Our property taxes are already high enough; Nordonia schools simply need to manage the budget better; we’re already better than similarly-sized districts in terms of student-teacher ratios, extracurricular offerings and the like. I.e., we need to consider scaling back.

I concur on some points. Our property taxes are high. Our programs are ahead of the curve. The schools will likely be able to hold the line with state averages – for a while anyway – at current funding levels.

But I didn’t move Sagamore Hills for average. I came from a community with property taxes about 60 percent lower than Nordonia’s and can say from that experience that you get what you pay for. There’s plenty of evidence of that – for better or worse – all over Summit and Cuyahoga Counties. And, today in Nordonia, we’re definitely getting what we pay for – for better.

But, the current performance of our schools will not sustain on a budget that was designed for a 2011 economy. They’ll survive, sure. If nothing else, the law dictates certain minimums. But is that what we want – minimum? Are we comfortable watching our district backslide to a point that our future tax base of young families opts for the suddenly greener pastures of Hudson or Solon or Stow? Declining schools are the start of a self-perpetuating cycle that concludes with a less desirable community. As more affluent homeowners flee – or avoid – the area, property values will drop. Reduced tax revenues will bleed into other public services, which will, in turn, lower property values further, leading to even less tax revenue. And so on.

On the other hand, passage of the levy means continuation of the programs that are so important to my family and so many others like ours. It means the district will be able to retain top teachers and staff members who might otherwise be forced to continue their careers elsewhere (nearly 40 layoffs are already planned if the levy fails). It means improved safety and security across all six campuses. It means waterproof roofs and fully-operational HVAC systems. It means young families will actively seek to settle in Macedonia, Northfield and Sagamore Hills.

It also means all of us will be able to continue taking pride in developing the region’s brightest young minds by providing the absolute best educational experience we can.

And, honestly, doesn’t that alone make it worth the investment?

Learn more about Issue 3, and how the added funding will be used, at https://nordoniastrong.org.

Full disclosure: At the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year, my family is moving out of the Nordonia Hills district. This is due to changes in my both my and my wife’s professional circumstances and has nothing to do with any lack of affection for Nordonia – strong enough affection that we only made the decision to relocate when every alternative effort to stay had been exhausted. Nevertheless, we will continue to love and support our Nordonia brethren long after we are nothing more than a distant memory. Go Knights.


Our Community's Future is at Stake

By Laura Gabel, Northfield
Published in The News Leader
April 23, 2019

We need to pass Issue 3 to keep our students and our community strong. Nordonia has the fourth lowest tax rate in Summit County, but we have the third highest achievement. When you ask Nordonia teachers to “do more with less,” guess what, they already have

This has been accomplished with no increase in taxes since 2011 (students currently at Lee Eaton, Northfield, Ledgeview and Rushwood were not even in kindergarten then). I have a unique perspective as a school psychologist in an urban district and a parent in Nordonia. I have seen first-hand what large class sizes and lack of services can do.

Without this levy our most vulnerable students will have less support when special education aides are reduced. We will not be able to put needed physical and psychological safety in place. Academic achievement will go down as class sizes increase.

Our schools will be LESS, and our property values will be LESS as well. Ask any realtor, good schools are linked to good housing values. It is urgent that every voter in your home votes “yes” on Issue 3. Our community’s future depends on it.


Sixth Grader Says 'Vote Yes' on Levy

By Sarah Sedor, Sagamore Hills
Published in The News Leader
April 23, 2019

I’m a sixth grade student at Lee Eaton. I am nervous that if the Nordonia levy doesn’t pass for our schools, it can really hurt my and other students’ learning. Already my school is dealing with leaking and heating problems. There was a ceiling leak in my Language Arts class. We had to put a bin under it and listen to it pitpat- pit-pat all through class.

At the beginning of the year it’s always very hot, and only one hallway in the whole school has air conditioning! While some students are lucky enough to come in from recess and be met with a wave of cool air, the majority have to bear the heat for the whole day, sweating until their shirts are soaked. It’s the opposite in the winter.

It’s freezing and sometimes while I’m trying to learn, I get so cold that I arrange my body in the weirdest positions to stay warm. This distracts me from what the teacher is trying to teach me and often all I can think about is being cold. A lot of people think that the levy is to raise the teachers’ salaries, but that’s not true. It’s to fix the roof and the heat and if the levy doesn’t pass, this will all become worse.

I’ve always been excited to go to the middle school because I’ll be able to choose my own classes and learn what I am interested in learning. But, if the levy doesn’t pass, classes will be cut and students won’t have the opportunity to learn what we are interested in. Everyone deserves the chance to learn in a good and safe environment. That’s what this levy is about. Please help us by voting for this levy.


Ohio District 37 Representative Gives Support

By Rep. Casey Weinstein
As shared with Friends of Nordonia Schools
April 18, 2019

For years, Nordonia Schools have done more with less, with one of Summit County's lowest tax rates and highest levels of student achievement. So I'm proud to endorse Issue 3, and urge you to commit to funding the critical building repairs, academic programs and safety measures that Nordonia's students and teachers need and deserve to continue delivering for you!


Speaking Out to Support Strong Schools

By Courtney Whitten, Northfield Village
Shared on Facebook
April 18, 2019

Those of you who have known me a long time know several things about me when it comes time for May and November elections.

-I don’t get political.
-I don’t endorse things or people.
-I value everyone’s opinion even though I don’t agree with half of them.
-I’m not a corporate person and I don’t tote company lines.

But, I’m well informed. I follow topics and candidates. I do my own extensive research. And I rock the hell out of my vote.

Today, I break my own rules. Today I come asking you to Vote Yes on Issue 3 and to vote yes on our schools and children. I’ve done my homework. I’ve read the reports. I’ve been in these schools consistently first hand since Z started Kindergarten in 2005. My family and I walked through what happened the last time the levy failed and we had to cut down to state mandated minimums. Guys, it’s not a pretty sight. The schools still haven’t fully recovered from last time and happening again would be devastating.

I know, I can’t afford it either. But I more-so can’t afford to let my son down by taking away the aides that are so diligently working to help him one day be able to read at his grade level. I can’t afford to let my daughter down by making her beg for rides to and from the high school since she won’t have busing because I won’t be able to miss any time from work since I’ll be having to pay so very much more for her to be able to participate in high level classes or join band or do her sports so that she stays engaged in something and doesn’t sit home or in school, bored with idle hands and becoming a statistic. I can’t afford to let my neighbors down by having their children have part of a ceiling cave in on them like what happened at another school this week, simply because we chose to not supply the money to update the buildings.

Am I being overly dramatic? No, I’m being realistic. Because this is the point we’ve reached. This is the point the Nordonia Community has chosen to be at. It astonishes me.

The school Board and Finance team did an amazing job making the money from the last levy stretch long past the point anyone thought. And I have great confidence that they’ll be able to make this money count. Because quite frankly, we can’t afford to not believe in them.

So please, Vote Yes on Issue 3. It’s time to step up for our kids’ futures, our grandkids’ futures, and our community’s futures. Because if we don’t...who on Earth will...


Two Mayors, City Council Members endorse Issue 3 for Nordonia Hills City Schools

By Friends of Nordonia Hills Schools
Official Press Release
April 10, 2019

MACEDONIA - Two local Mayors, and City Council members announced their support for Issue 3, an ongoing support levy for the Nordonia Hills City Schools yesterday evening.

Mayor Nick Molnar of Macedonia and his City Council members, Shane Barker (not present), Kevin Bilkie, Jessica Brandt, Jan Tulley (not present) and Vini Ventura were joined by Mayor Jesse Nehez of Northfield Village and his City Council members, Jenn Domzalski (not present), Renell Noack, Nick Magistrelli and Gary Votush along with Nordonia Hills City Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark at Nordonia High School to express their public endorsement.

The levy will be on the ballot in the upcoming May 7th Primary Elections for residents of Macedonia, Northfield Village, Northfield Center, Sagamore Hills, and parts of Boston Heights.

Issue 3 calls for a 6.98 mil levy for homeowners in the Nordonia Hills City school district. The funds would give the school ongoing operating budget to pay for school maintenance, capital improvement projects, transportation, and salaries.

“I am proud of our elected officials for showing the courageous leadership to support issue 3. They recognize that strong communities need strong schools. Their support of the schools shows their commitment to Nordonia children and families. I thank them for their endorsement,” said Dr. Joe Clark, Superintendent of Nordonia Hills City Schools.

“Strong Schools = Strong Community!”, said Mayor Nick Molnar. Mayor Jesse Nehez added, “Our community is only as good as our school system and our children are our future.”


Thanks and a Reminder to Fixed-Income Residents

By Jason Roberts, Macedonia
Published in The News Leader
April 10, 2019

A common concern voiced whenever a school asks for operating money originates from those in our community who live on fixed incomes. While I feel this may be a legitimate concern, I wanted to point out a few facts that are commonly taken for granted.

A home valued at $200,000 will pay $41 per month when this levy passes. The median Nordonia home value is $177,533. This means the average Nordonia resident will pay $36.14 per month.

Almost every fixed income resident was educated under the same/similarly funded education system when they were a child. While one might argue that education costs have risen, I also point out that so, too, has the cost of everything. Incomes and social assistance sources like Social Security have increased.

Many of our fixed income residents rely heavily on their Social Security income. I have paid into the Social Security system since I was 16 and likely will until I am 60 years old. It is a fact that I will only receive back to me, in the form of retirement income, about one-third of the money I placed into the system. This also means that I am likely funding a portion of each fixed income resident in our community. I don’t mind supporting our retired residents. It is the responsibility we bear in a civilized America. I only ask that you remember this and return the favor to my children. Give them the chance that others before us gave you when you were a child.

For a small minority of you, this $36.14 may legitimately cause you to seek residence elsewhere. I am sorry if this happens. Having strong, wellmaintained school assets will help your house sell fast and at a fair price. Thank you for giving back to those who have supported you, and still are supporting you, today.


An Investment in Education

By April Wonsick, Northfield Center
Published in The News Leader
April 10, 2019

Nearly 10 years ago, my husband and I, parents to a then 3-year-old daughter and expecting our second child, made the decision to relocate from our home in Euclid to a community that aligned more closely with what we most value: safe neighborhoods, a thriving local economy, and most importantly, a strong school district.

We saw firsthand the impact failed school levies have on the larger community. In the seven years we lived in Euclid, with each failed school levy, our property value significantly dropped.

And as property values plummeted, our neighbors started selling their homes, searching for a more prosperous district in the area.

Much of the talk centered around why stay in a community that does not value education? Why should they live in a place that put saving a few extra dollars above their children’s success? Neither one of us originally from the Cleveland area, we relied on research and word-of-mouth recommendations for areas to consider for our new home.

Nordonia Hills was always one of the communities that topped the list, noted for the exceptional school system.

I’m proud to say it’s lived up to its reputation.

Our children, now in seventh and third grade, are thriving academically and socially, in large part due to the genuine passion and care of teachers and staff. But it takes more than the dedication of educators to sustain strong schools.

As a community, I see it as our responsibility to support our schools to ensure we continue to invest in our youth, our most valuable resource.

Consider the impact passing the levy will have on the local economy, boosting property values and maintaining a strong community.

An investment in education returns more than academic success.

I urge my fellow residents to vote yes on Issue 3.


Calls Upcoming School Levy "A Small Price to Pay"

By Dennis Champa, Boston Heights
Published in The News Leader
April 3, 2019

I have lived in this Community my entire life and now at 45-years-old I’m more excited than ever to remain a part of what makes this place great.

I have taken much pride over the years that I have remained in a place where there is strong community support and an amazing school system. Having gone to St. Barnabas, then Nordonia High School and as a class of 1991 graduate, there is much to be proud of.

The schools here have prepared me not only for college but also for the next step in life and have helped mold me into who I am today.

I believe it to be our civic responsibility to keep a strong system in place not only for this generation of students, but also for future generations to come.

There is a reason I have chosen to plant my roots here. The decision to vote yes for the upcoming school levy is an easy one for me, as I understand the long-term value and deep impact associated it.

Many other benefits outside of just the schools also apply such as our home values. Property valuation starts with the foundation of a strong well-funded school system.

Potential homebuyers typically pick the school system first then select the house they want to purchase.

A Jan. 15 Kaplan Real-estate education editorial states that having a solid school system can have as much as a 10 percent impact on the value of your home.

Could you imagine your home value declining by 10 percent?Passing the upcoming levy is a small price to pay to protect one of the most valuable long-term investments you own, even if you don’t have children in the school system.


Retired Educator Calls Nordonia Hills 'The Very Best'; Urges Yes Vote

By William Holko, Olmstead Falls
Published in The News Leader
March 27, 2019

I write this correspondence from the perspective of a retired public schools educator of 43 years, and an educational consultant for the past six years. I currently serve the Nordonia Hills Schools in the capacity of a PAX Partner in each of the elementary buildings.

Formerly, I was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Summit County Educational Service Center. In that capacity, I had the opportunity to oversee significant professional development, and in some cases, personally provide services for the 15 Summit County school districts and beyond.

In so doing, I had the privilege of working with administrators, teachers and leadership teams in your school district. The Nordonia Hills City School District was one of, if not the very best district with which I worked. On what basis would I make that claim?

The reasons abound, but in a word, your school district does things the right way. Please trust me when I say that the residents of this school district have a hidden gem of an educational operation.

You have a very important 6.98 mill operating levy coming up in May of this year.

There is no need for me to itemize what is at stake in terms of staff reductions, cuts in services, and the like, should the levy go down to defeat, other than to say that your most valuable resource, the children, will lose out.

Additionally, it is no secret what a solid school district means for property values, community pride and the overall economic environment.

I urge you to vote “yes” to provide your school board the funding needed to meet the ever-increasing demands and expectations placed on school districts in this day and age.


Says Issue 3 is 'Small Investment' Benefitting 'Every Homeowner'

By Christine Meske, Sagamore Hills
Published in The News Leader
March 27, 2019

“Why should I vote for more taxes to support something I don’t even use?”

This question about Issue 3, while understandable, has a clear answer: School levies affect every homeowner in a district, whether they have children enrolled or not.

Simply put, homes in communities with strong schools are more attractive to buyers and therefore spend less time on the market, selling easily at higher asking prices. At 6.98 mills, the operating levy on the ballot this May is a small investment to retain the value of all our homes. I would suggest residents vote “yes” on Issue 3.


Our View: Issue 3 would prevent drastic cuts in education

By The News Leader Editorial Staff
Published in The News Leader
March 27, 2019

Our schools need money again – it’s become a fact of life.

Nordonia Hills City Schools is asking voters to approve Issue 3, a 6.98-mill operating levy on the May 7 ballot. Approval would bring the district an added $7 million per year and avoid drastic cuts that would affect both the quality of education, as well as the character of the community. If approved, it would cost homeowners about $20 per month per $100,000 of their home’s value.

A similar measure last November failed by less than 700 votes.

As a result, the schools are poised to eliminate 38 teaching and support staff positions, reduce busing to state minimum, along with other cuts that will impact students in sports and families with children in kindergarten. These measures would save the district about $1.6 million per year.

Also, about 500 staff have agreed to a one-year wage freeze, when contract negotiations with the two employee organizations would have likely resulted in salary increase. These agreements will save an estimated $250,000 next year.

Officials say some of the staff cuts and busing, but not the salary freeze, would be revisited if the levy is approved.

If the levy is not approved, the district will have no choice but to follow through with those cuts, and begin considering even more drastic measures to balance its budget in upcoming years.

That’s the nature of school funding in Ohio: Voters approve operating levies that provide a fixed amount of money, while costs increase over time. School districts operate in the black for a few years, banking the excess revenue over expenditures, until rising costs means accumulated reserves dwindle. Without fail, the reserve will eventually be exhausted unless revenue is increased, or cuts are made.

That’s the situation the district was in the last time voters approved an operating levy – in 2011.

If Issue 3 is not approved, the district will have no choice but to return to the ballot in November, while at the same time considering even more drastic cuts.

Without added funding, the district could eventually reach the point where teachers of elective courses would be laid off, the school day shortened, and sports and extra-curricular activities eliminated. In the long run, that’s the only way to cut enough positions and reduce costs enough to make ends meet.

Those were the topics school officials were discussing in 2011. Had that levy not been approved, the biggest losers would not have been dozens of staffers forced to find other jobs, it would have been the hundreds of children stuck in a community unwilling to afford them the same opportunities as their neighbors.

The reality of school funding will not change. The question is, how long will Nordonia Hills voters take to step up and make a difference?

On May 7, voters can choose to support their community’s children with a vote for Issue 3. In the long run, there is no other alternative.


Says Seniors Should Join School Community

By Christie Rusk, Sagamore Hills
Published in The News Leader
March 20, 2019

I will be supporting Issue 3, the Nordonia School levy, this May.

Great schools equal a great community.

I follow the discussion here in The News Leader but also on social media. It dismays me when community members say they don’t need the schools, have no use for them or they have no children in the schools so they will be voting “No.” The usual response deals with property values and how they fluctuate depending on school ratings. I would like to offer another response.

The Wall Street Journal published a Dec. 11, 2018 article titled “The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone.”

The article’s central idea is the Baby Boomers are aging alone more than any generations in U.S. history. It also states that loneliness is a looming public health threat. A study done by Brigham Young University found that greater social connection was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of early death.

So for those that say you don’t need the schools or you are not getting any value from them, I hope you take a second look at how the schools can be a beneficial part of your life. Come and cheer on a team.

I hadn’t been to a volleyball game in years until I went last fall. Amazing what the girls are doing and additional fans are always welcome.

Senior citizens can receive free allsports passes by stopping by the high school. There were seats available at the choir and band concerts this week. I attended the choir concert this week. The choral group sings so beautifully and is truly moving. The list can go on.

I encourage everyone to join the Nordonia School’s community and to re-evaluate how the schools can be embraced in your life.


Support for Schools a Matter of Community

By Dustin Wadsworth, Sagamore Hills
Published in The News Leader
March 13, 2019

Family values.

Thankfully, we live in a place where we’re given the freedom to have a different interpretation of what that means from one household to the next. At its core, family is group of people who are together. What you value is about your character. That’s what I believe.

For those of us who live in Macedonia, Northfield, and Sagamore Hills we will have a choice to make on May 7. It’s decision about the immediate future of our schools. It’s about much more than our schools though.

Your community, your neighbors, and you yourself will soon make a decision that will have a lasting impact on the value of our community. An operating levy for the Nordonia Hills schools isn’t a cash grab to line the wallets of the administrative staff, or to build a new football stadium. It isn’t the result of mismanagement of funds. It’s about funding our schools with an operating budget to cover critical issues necessary to provide a basic service to the children in our community.

The youngest members of our community should have a bus ride to school. They should be able to sit at their desk on a rainy day without having to sit next to trash a can that’s catching the rainwater during math class.They shouldn’t be forced to wear a winter jacket during English class, or be dealt a short hand after numerous staff positions are eliminated. That’s what our school children are facing.

But you can do something about that on May 7 if you value the future our community.

Strong schools are the cornerstone of any community, and like the old saying goes “It takes a village” to raise a child."