NORDONIA HILLS — The Board of Education on Monday voted to place a 6.98-mill operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. School officials say that if approved, the levy will cost homeowners about $246 per year per $100,000 of their home’s value.

Officials say funding received from the levy will address improvements for the district in safety and security, make capital improvements on outdated and dilapidated school facilities and systems, and allow the district to maintain and enhance educational programs.

Superintendent Dr. Joe Clark said in a release that community members who attended a March 7 open forum meeting indicated that "it is clear that augmented safety continues to be a top priority of the district at this time."

Currently the district is finalizing a list of safety and security enhancements that will be implemented upon passage of the levy, Clark said, adding the enhancements will range from items to increase the security of facilities to staffing that will address mental health concerns of students.

"In light of recent national events, the funding from the levy will be used, in part, to further strengthen the safety measures we have in place at our schools," Clark said. "The district realizes the need for the increased focus on our children’s safety, and we are dedicated to aligning Nordonia with changing national school security standards."

According to District Treasurer Karen Obratil, the levy comes at a critical time for the district. She said the district has seen funding reductions over the years due to Ohio’s elimination of the tangible property tax reimbursement, Ohio’s transfer of Nordonia funding to charter schools, and a loss of funding resulting from Summa Health’s recent decision to pull out of a sponsorship deal with the district.

"Due to the district’s fiscal responsibility and prudent management, Nordonia was able to extend the 2011 levy for seven years when it was only expected to last one year," Obratil stated. "This new operating levy is needed to make vital improvements to the district that otherwise may not be completed, and maintain the staffing necessary for our instructional program."

Money from the levy will also go to pay for capital improvements, as the district is one of only two in the county without a dedicated permanent improvement levy.

"All of the district’s buildings were last renovated in 2001, meaning the roofs and boilers are coming to the end of their lifespan," said Matt Gaugler, business director. "Just as a house requires renovations, the district needs to maintain its systems. The levy will ultimately assist in this maintenance, in addition to facilitating needed safety and security enhancements."

If the levy fails, the district would be forced to make cuts in other areas to make the necessary improvements to school facilities and to prioritize safety, Clark said.

Clark noted that out of the 17 districts in Summit County, Nordonia has the third highest academic achievement and second lowest tax rate.

"We are lucky to have such a supportive community in Nordonia," he added. "We have been fortunate to not have to ask for new operating funds since 2011, but now it is necessary if we are to continue advancing the security of our schools and remaining competitive with neighboring districts in educational opportunities for students."

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