District to investigate cost-saving measures

by Lori Gray

Feb. 20 board of education meeting

The Nordonia Hills Board of Education passed a resolution to investigate cost-savings measures for the 2024-25 school year and beyond.

The resolution reads, in part, “The treasurer and superintendent are directed to investigate and identify cost-savings measures for the district, with a goal up to $1 million, while still maintaining a high-quality educational program for the district’s students.” 

The resolution notes that measures could include reductions for teaching and non-teaching employees. Treasurer Kyle Kiffer and Superintendent Casey Wright must consult with representatives from the Nordonia Hills Educators’ Association and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees Local 246 to discuss the impacts potential cuts could have for employee bargaining units.

Kiffer and Wright will report their findings to the board of education at its regular March 18 meeting.

Wright noted that the cost savings achieved in the 2023-24 school year were attained by not replacing multiple departing staff members. “This year will be more painful and will cut deeper,” he said.

“The easy cuts are gone and we will have hard choices to make,” said Kiffer, adding that the outcome of the investigation will be built into the spending forecast in May. 

About the upcoming March meeting, board Vice President Liz McKinley said, “It will be a grim conversation.”

Financial update

Kiffer reported the district’s finances from January and for the period of July 2023 through January 2024.

In January, the district had an $8.1 million cash balance, compared to $7.3 million in January 2023. 

From July through January 2024, general fund revenues were up $877,718 – 3.3% higher than the previous year – for a total of $27.1 million. Overall expenses for the period were up $924,130 – 2.9% higher than the previous year – for a total of almost $32.4 million through January. 

Kiffer noted that spending is up 4.7% due to increased costs of purchased services, such as technology, utilities and transportation. 

Nordonia Middle School students (l-r) Paxton Surratt, Mykah Rayle, Clara LaGrew, Beatrice Babloyan and Ryan Arieta performed a couple songs from the musical “Frozen” at the meeting. Photo by Lori Gray.

Middle school drama performance

Students from Nordonia Middle School performed several songs from their recent production of “Frozen.”

NMS Principal Bryan Seward and drama teacher Kathleen Pellington introduced student cast members Paxton Surratt (as Hans), Mykah Rayle (as Olaf), Clara LaGrew (as Anna), Beatrice Babloyan (as Elsa) and Ryan Arieta (as both Kristoff and Sven). 

“All of our students worked so extremely hard,” Pellington said. “We had just under 900 people come to see the middle school musical, which is definitely a record for us.”


Wright recognized McKinley for earning the Ohio School Boards Association service award. The service award is part of the OSBA’s STAR Awards Program (Service, Training, Aptitude and Recognition).

“It is really an honor any time you get recognized by your state association. This is one of the highest awards they give,” said Wright. “This is our chance to recognize how great you actually do. This is even more important because you are recognized by fellow board members across the state.” 

The Ohio Auditor of State recognized the Nordonia district with the Award of Distinction for fiscal year 2023 during a state audit in February. 

Said Kiffer, “The audit comes in to ensure that fiscal transparency is there. I use the audit as something to build on, and be more efficient on dollars and cents. We have had a lot of transition in the treasurer’s office and I really cannot thank the staff enough.”

Public comment

During open forum, resident Ingbert Schmidt, father of two students at Ledgeview Elementary, expressed concerns about potential changes to the high school foreign language curriculum discussed at a recent PTA meeting.

“Foreign language education is not just about learning the language, it is also about learning the cultures of all the different places in the world where those languages are spoken,” Schmidt said. “I strongly urge you all to keep the offerings you currently have because that can be absolutely vital for kids’ development and help them grow and to give them the opportunity to really understand the world that they live in beyond the immediate locale where they experience the world.” ∞