Superintendent’s Corner by Dr. Joe Clark

The Nordonia Hills City School District heard some good news recently: academically, the district is performing better than ever in its history. The Ohio Department of Education released the 2021-22 local report cards in September. You may have heard that the state report cards are transitioning from an A-F rating system to a 1-5 star rating system. While overall district ratings are not being published this year, they have still been calculated for federal school improvement identification.

So, the good news: the Nordonia Hills City School District has earned an overall 5-star rating—the highest rating possible—from the Ohio Department of Education. This puts us in the top 5% of school districts in Ohio. We are extremely proud of our staff and students for their hard work and grateful for the supportive families who encourage and guide their kids. Even though we are thrilled with our 5-star rating, it is worth remembering that our schools are much more than what is measured by the state report card.

In addition to our stellar academics, Nordonia students have wonderful opportunities in the arts, athletics and STEM. Students have ample service-learning options and programs that support the community, such as Knights Caring for Knights and Red Cross Club. The district has an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with DEI organizations open to families and students.

Nordonia students have access to award-winning career and technical programs at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center and numerous opportunities to earn college credit while in high school. Nordonia teachers and staff work incredibly hard to build positive relationships with students, and our social-emotional programs and resources help all students, especially our most vulnerable. The district has strong support from our local safety forces, and the safety and security of students and staff is always the highest priority.

Remember to vote

Issue 5 will replace Nordonia’s six schools with three new schools. It will be 7.75 mills, with the annual cost being $271 for each $100,000 of valuation for 37 years. The total project cost will be around $165 million.

It is important for the community to know that the district currently has two bond levies that will be ending in the near future. One bond levy will retire after the collection year 2025 and the other will retire after the collection year 2030. The retirement of these bond levies will remove approximately 2.86 mills from the tax rolls, making the net increase to taxpayers less than five mills in the near future.

This has been a community-led initiative. We are grateful to the steering committee for putting together such a wonderful plan. Ultimately, though, the decision lies with the voters. What kind of school facilities does this community want?

In 1997, the community twice punted on building a new middle school. In 2000, it voted to renovate all buildings instead. So here we are, 22 years later, with the major systems from the year 2000 renovations coming to the end of their life cycle. Though the district has done a good job of maintaining and extending building lives, major systems will soon need to be repaired or replaced. So the most important question is, does this community want to continue repairing old facilities and operating inefficiently with six schools, or build three new schools while decreasing operating costs?

Consider this: the district currently has more than 550,000 square feet of roofing. That’s nearly 13 acres—13 football fields—of roofing to maintain. Consolidating from six buildings to three will cut in half the amount of roofing to maintain, allowing money to go into classrooms where it belongs.

It is undeniably true that this is a big ask of the voters and a huge project. Also true is that the Nordonia schools are among the oldest in the region and have significant structural, system and programmatic challenges. Whatever you decide, please exercise one of your greatest rights and vote on Nov. 8.

As always, thanks for your continued support of the Nordonia Schools, and Go Knights! ∞