$165 million bond levy to appear on November ballot

by Laura Bednar

July 18 board of education meeting

Nordonia Hills City Schools Board of Education approved adding a $165 million bond levy to the November ballot for the construction of three new school buildings.

Four board members voted to submit the levy to residents; Matt Kearney opposed the bond issue.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle, there’s going to be people in the community who are against it,” said board member Chad Lahrmer. “I think we have a really good shot at pushing this thing through, and I think this is a great thing for our community. … Our buildings are garbage; they need to be replaced.”

Said board President Liz McKinley, “This isn’t a board decision, this is a community decision.”

Board member Jason Tidmore echoed this idea saying, “I think the community is going to tell us whether or not it’s time.”

Kearney said he had an issue with the timing of the levy. “As board members, we have a duty to be good financial stewards of taxpayer money. Four years ago we had minus-5% inflationary costs on construction material and now they’re at 20%. I don’t see this as a good decision.”

He added that the district will pay off a current bond in three years, and he thinks the market will correct itself by then.

Three people addressed the levy and new school construction during public forum.

“The money collected from this potential bond issue stays right here in our school district,” said Karen Byers. “It will build new, safe schools enhanced with the latest technology and safety [features]. You won’t be retrofitting an old building to try to make it safe.”

Said Jeff Pudelski, “I’m supporting new schools for the community’s children.” He added that he is concerned people will move to another district if the levy does not pass.

Northfield Historical Society member Rick Devine asked about the fate of the historic Palmer House and Museum on Olde 8 Road in Northfield, as the society leases the building from the schools.

“It’s a fascinating facility and one that we intend keeping intact, regardless of what happens with the facilities. … [It] should be kept alive for our kids to learn the history of this area,” said Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark.

High school changes

The board voted to remove class rankings in Nordonia High School after a presentation by Principal Casey Wright earlier this year. Wright had said rank causes anxiety and only benefits the top 10% of students.

Class rank will no longer be included on transcripts but will be available if needed for college or military applications.

During the meeting, Clark said Wright will step down as principal to become director of business, a position previously held by Matt Strickland, who left for a job in Twinsburg. Louise Teringo will be the interim principal at the high school from Aug. 1 through July 31, 2023.

Substitute teachers

The board approved a pay increase for substitute teachers from $100 a day to $115 a day. Clark said the increase is “an attempt to increase the substitute fill rate.”

The district also created the position of “building sub,” in which a substitute would be assigned to the same building every day at a rate of $150 a day. Clark said when the district doesn’t have a substitute, it has to pull an existing teacher from their class. The teacher is being paid at least $30 an hour, whereas a substitute would receive $20 per hour.

“It’s a savings to the district,” said Clark.

Board members extended the adjusted substitute teacher requirements for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. It allows people with high school diplomas to sub for grades K-5 and those with at least two years of college to sub for grades 6-12.

“It’s a realistic response to the substitute teacher shortage all across the nation,” said Clark.

Said Tidmore, “Hopefully this will be a temporary solution. … We want to start the school year with some type of plan.” ∞