Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NCS Superintendent explains 8.61 mill 10-year levy on May ballot

Guest blog by Rob Amodio

As Superintendent of the Norwood City School District it is my responsibility to inform our community members of both the accomplishments of our staff and students as well as the state of district finances.

As a district, we are making great academic strides and are receiving wonderful praise. We have outstanding students and staff members throughout the district. This is demonstrated by countless accomplishments:

· Four of our five schools were rated “Effective” by the Ohio Department of Education. This is the highest rating that our district has ever received! While this may be a fine accomplishment, we will not rest until we are rated “Excellent”.
· Norwood High School is recognized by Cincinnati Magazine as one of the top five high schools in the region in the areas of Science, Mathematics and Technology.
· The graduating class of 2010 earned over $150,000 in scholarship awards.
· Eighty percent of the students from the class of 2010 are currently enrolled in college or serving in the Armed Forces.
· The Norwood Middle School has implemented their extremely successful Peacebuilders Program with the financial assistance of several grant opportunities. The Peacebuilders Program focuses on enhancing student academic growth through character education and peer behavior modeling.
· At Sharpsburg Elementary Mrs. Sunni Sailing was selected for the prestigious “One In A Thousand” national educator award! She was selected as a result of her tireless efforts and amazing passion for her work with the children of Sharpsburg.
· Parental and community support at View Elementary is outstanding. Each week over 30 parents and community members work with our children in the classrooms and hallways to assist our teachers and students in their learning environment.
· At Williams Elementary Mrs. Carol McMahon has implemented the Whiz Kids program. This program provides for intensive one on one mentoring and intervention for students in the areas of mathematics and reading! Whiz Kids will not only involve our teaching staff at Williams but also parental and community volunteers.

Each day our staff and students are creating an amazing educational environment and continue to add to the proud tradition of Norwood City Schools! Norwood City Schools has continued to improve even with a difficult economy. To combat the effects of the economy on our budget the Norwood City School District has cut costs:

· $1.7 million (8.0%) has been cut from the district’s budget
· Through collaboration with our employee unions, all school employees have had a base pay freeze for two years, beginning with the 2009-10 school year.
· Staff reductions included the layoff of 20 teachers and 11 support staff members.

The district has also implemented cost cutting measures that have targeted utility, health insurance, building maintenance and instructional supply costs. Just as each of our community members are doing, we are working daily to cut costs while at the same time protecting the education of our 2,201 students.

Fewer teachers results in less service but we have worked hard to minimize the damage to the education of our children. Even with the budget reductions we implemented, we still face a $1.25 million dollar budget deficit for next school year. The combination of the economy and the fact that the district has not had a new levy or tax increase since 1995, makes it impossible to make further cuts without severely damaging the education services we provide to our children.

With this known, on January 24th , the Norwood City School District Board of Education voted unanimously to place an 8.61 mill 10 year Emergency Levy on the ballot for May 3rd, 2011. Please understand that we do not take this decision lightly, it is hard to ask you for more money in these times but the cost of additional cuts has an even greater cost to our children. With passage of this levy the average home owner would pay approximately $5.00 per week for a home valued at $100,000. The Norwood City School District has not requested an increase in property taxes from the residents of Norwood since the passage of a levy in 1995. We are now in the 16th year since the district asked our residents for additional tax revenue. Failure of the levy in May will force the school district to further reduce programs and services to children by $1.718 million dollars next school year. These reductions will include:

· The layoff of an additional 39 employees including 18 teachers, 1 administrator and 20 support staff personnel as well as forcing us to close all school libraries.
· The elimination of all technology courses from the high school and middle school and
· Increased class sizes throughout the district including raising the average class sizes at our elementary schools from 22 to 27 students per class. Class sizes will range as high as 35 students per class at the high school and middle school.

These reductions will be catastrophic and damaging to the education of our children and have potentially devastating effect on our community on a whole.

We are committed to provide all of our children with extraordinary educational opportunities in a safe and challenging educational environment. The future of our community is walking the hallways of our school buildings each day. Protect “Norwood Pride” and support our children. They are counting on all of us to keep the bridge to their future strong for years to come.

Robert Amodio
Norwood City School District