Superintendent’s Corner

As you are likely aware, school facilities are the hottest topic we are working on. 

We are so grateful the community passed an operating levy in 2019, which covers things like salaries, benefits, utilities, supplies and materials. Nordonia is unique in being the only school district in Summit County without a dedicated permanent improvement levy. That means our operating levies also cover capital expenses including roofs, boilers, technology infrastructure, vehicles and so forth.

When the operating levy passed, we wanted to make the absolute best use of the funding, so we asked the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to evaluate district facilities. This is a free service provided by the state, which we were hoping to use as a second opinion about which roofs and boilers would be next in line for replacement.

Based on the cost-benefit analysis, the OFCC determined that putting new equipment in our old buildings would not be the best decision. Instead, OFCC suggested that all our buildings needed to be replaced. 

In February 2021, after a yearlong COVID-19 delay, the Nordonia Hills Board of Education met with and interviewed three architecture firms and chose Sol Harris/Day to create a master plan for district facilities.

SHD’s work is referred to as pre-bond services, because the district made no commitment other than to create the master plan. SHD was in our buildings confirming or refuting the OFCC analysis, studying traffic patterns at our building and looking at student population trends.

In September 2021, SHD led our district in an “educational futures” conference. This kicked-off the master plan process and a steering committee was selected from our community to drive this project forward. Over the next 5 to 6 months, consultant Cooperative Strategies led our community through a series of meetings and conversations to set the foundation of what our facilities and our students’ educations will look like for the next 50-plus years. 

The master plan was finalized and presented to the board on March 21. The master plan suggests going from six schools to three by building a new grade K-4 elementary school, new grade 5-8 middle school, and new grade 9-12 high school.

Now, the board of education must consider the recommendation and determine if it will place a bond issue on the ballot. Ultimately, one of two things will happen. If the community decides to build new schools, construction will be paid for with a bond issue. This will save the general fund money that otherwise would have been spent on repairs. If the community decides not to build new schools, we will continue using general fund money to keep our buildings safe and comfortable for student use.

One thing most everyone agrees on is that our schools are old, inefficient, and not designed for modern instructional practices. All of our schools came online more than 50 years ago.

  • Rushwood: 1970
  • Ledgeview: 1964
  • Northfield: 1963
  • Nordonia High School: 1961
  • Lee Eaton: 1954
  • Nordonia Middle School: 1928
  • Board of Education office: 1916

Our facilities are not just old. They simply are not conducive to modern education. They were designed by the greatest generation for the baby boomers. They are buildings designed to prepare kids for working in factories and assembly lines. They are not designed for collaboration. They are not flexible. They are inefficient. They are uncomfortable.

I believe Nordonia kids deserve better. They deserve to have facilities that will allow them to compete for jobs and college admissions and scholarships with kids from other districts with modern facilities. Ultimately, though, the decision belongs to the voters. A decision this large is not one to be made by the superintendent alone, or even the board of education. The community needs to determine what they want the future to look like for the next several generations of Nordonia students.

I am very excited to be a part of this process and to be embarking on this journey with our community. Whether the outcome is new buildings, renovated buildings, fewer buildings, or maintaining our existing buildings, the decision will be made by the Nordonia Hills City School District community as a whole.

As always, thanks for supporting the Nordonia Schools, have a great month, and remember to follow me on Twitter @JoeSuperintend1. ∞