Meet the Candidates – Nordonia Hills Board of Education candidates

There are two open positions on the Nordonia Hills City Schools Board of Education with three candidates vying for a seat. Chad Lahrmer and Liz McKinley are running for re-election against newcomer Tim Ellis.

All board members serve four-year terms and are paid $125 per meeting. A board member may not make more than $5,000 per year, which is 40 meetings a year at the current rate. Board members can partake in the district’s insurance benefits but they bear 100% of the cost.

Following are questions posed to the candidates by the Sagamore Voice magazine. Their responses were limited to 225 words. Below are their unedited answers.

1. The school district has a new treasurer and will soon have a new superintendent. How will you work with these new administrators to integrate them into the school?

Ellis: With a recently appointed superintendent and treasurer, the Nordonia Hills community is presented with an exceptional opportunity to also elect a new board member. Having personally engaged with both individuals, I understand the challenges they face. Together, we will bring new ideas and solutions that are not only transparent but will restore community trust in district.

Lahrmer: I have a great working relationship with both our superintendent and treasurer(s). I have always made myself available to talk to them and be straightforward and honest. Mr. Kiffer and I speak with each other regularly and I am already doing the same with interim superintendent, Mr. Wright. Both gentlemen are intelligent, hardworking professionals. As a board, we need to let them perform their jobs. The board’s role is provide guidance and oversight, not to micromanage. However, with both a new treasurer and superintendent, continuity at the board level is vital.

McKinley: The new superintendent and Mr. Kiffer will meet and confer with various entities the district works and collaborates with to continue Nordonia’s growth. Both leaders have procedures and policies that guide the work that they do, and each provides regular communication to the board in relation to their specific departments. As a board member I provide my expectations, share community concerns, and seek clarification as needed, as well as work with the board to help the treasurer and superintendent develop goals and provide support.

2. A levy to build new school buildings failed in November. What is your plan to address the infrastructure of all six school buildings?

Ellis: Two-thirds of Nordonia voters rejected the board’s $165 million dollar building plan. Residents are dealing with record inflation and a shocking 30% increase in their county property valuations. At the same time, the board is forecast to spend $25 million more than it brings in over the next 4 school years. Our school board must balance the financial concerns of residents with the needs of families in the district to avoid a repeat of past fiscal crises that led to the board cutting busing, laying off staff members, and cutting vital educational programs. Maintaining a safe and comfortable learning environment in our current buildings is necessary until our deficit spending is brought under control.

Lahrmer: The community stated now is not the time for new buildings; the board is listening. The district spent $2mil on roof repairs this summer and continues to make repairs as needed. To offset the repair costs, the district has made $1mil in annual cost reductions. The district has also set aside money from the MGM tax settlement to be used for capital improvements.

McKinley: Purchased services and software from Ameresco will organize and prioritize the capital needs of all district buildings. We will be able to minimize costly emergency repairs, and efficiently navigate building needs based on thorough and thoughtful capital planning. Repairs can then be bid on to ensure the best pricing.

3. If elected, what do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Ellis: As a board member I hope to address three major items. 1. Eliminate wasteful spending and restore community trust in the spending decisions of the district. 2. Work with our incoming superintendent to provide safer schools for our staff and students. 3. Work to increase transparency and accountability in the daily operations of the district.

Lahrmer: I would like to stabilize our operating financial position and make another attempt at constructing new facilities. Our buildings are outdated and I feel our students deserve modern facilities. New school buildings will be a source of pride and enjoyed by the entire community. I believe we can build new facilities while both maintaining our high education standards and still be one of the lowest taxed school districts in Summit County.

McKinley: As the district continues to move forward it will be important to continue the alignments of our programing with the community created Portrait of a Knight and meeting the needs of all students. I would like to see the continued growth of AP and CCP classes at the high school, as well as encouraging students to take full advantage of offerings at CVCC. I look forward to having more opportunities to offer our middle school, intermediate, and elementary schools as they travel their path as a Knight. ∞

Tim Ellis
Age: 51
Occupation: Police Officer-Sagamore Hills Township

Chad Lahrmer
Age: 49
Occupation: self-employed Certified Public Accountant

Liz McKinley
Age: 49
Occupation: Teacher