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Northfield Village -- There is no shortage of achievements by students in Nordonia Hills City Schools, as Superintendent Joe Clark told the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce during the annual State of the Schools address Oct. 13 at Spennato's Italian Ristorante in Northfield Village.
Clark said this year's seniors are the first to have a community service requirement for graduation.
"We believe that community service not only provides services to those people and organizations in the community that need it, but also that community service provides a real advantage to our students," he said.
He said that is demonstrated in three ways -- it teaches students tangible life skills, it provides them a competitive advantage for admission to colleges and it provides a competitive advantage to them for scholarships.
Clark said 708 Nordonia High School students participated in athletics last school year, averaging a 3.495 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
"This GPA supports that students who participate in extracurricular activities are likewise successful in the classroom," he said.
Last school year, 78,872 books were checked out of the school libraries, he said, adding that is more than 20 items per student.
He said 15 Advanced Placement classes are currently taught at Nordonia, up from seven just a few years ago.
"This was done through intelligent scheduling, not through the addition of any extra staff," he said.
The class of 2016 earned more than $7.65 million in scholarship money, he said, and nearly $66,000 of this money was from 63 local scholarships.
Clark said the district's special education program, which he said is the basis of success for students with disabilities, received the highest rating possible from the Ohio Department of Education.
Last spring, a new permanent Safety Town was unveiled at a cost of about $70,000.
"It is an annual, week-long camp where pre-kindergartners get lessons in real-world safety," he said. "In past years, Safety Town was hosted at Ledgeview Elementary School with temporary buildings set up on the playground. Now, the program has a permanent facility at Rushwood Elementary School, thanks to the efforts and generous donations from businesses and individuals throughout the community."
The Nordonia marching band received numerous awards including being named grand champion out of 17 bands at the New Philadelphia Marching Quaker Field competition, he said, while the Nordonia High School choral program "excelled on all fronts."
Clark stressed there are 17 school districts in Summit County and Nordonia has the third lowest tax rate.
"Twinsburg residents pay three more mills than Nordonia residents," he said. "Stow pays five more mills. Hudson residents pay almost 11 more mills than Nordonia residents."
Clark said the district has thrived because of hard work and solid money management.
"When I became superintendent in 2011, we were in a period of near financial disaster," he said. "We had reduced our staff by more than 100 employees, and we eliminated several key administrative positions. In the last five years, it is amazing to reflect on the progress we have made. In fact, the Nordonia Schools have never been stronger than they are right now. The credit for these successes belongs to the all of the hard working staff, students and community members who care so deeply about our schools.
"We are as financially stable as we have been in a long time," he said. "The last levy that passed, in November 2011, was enough to stop our bleeding and prevent us from being taken over by the state. We expected the levy to get us through one year. However, through maintaining a tight belt, we have managed to stretch that levy to this point.
"We will continue to be financially conservative to extend the life of the 2011 operations levy as far as we can."