Rating the Suburbs 2012: For the School Belle

When its schools faced tough cuts, residents responded by passing a new levy.


Farhad Sethna was a single dad when he moved to Macedonia 15 years ago, and he chose the Summit County suburb along Interstate 271 because of its good schools. Since then, his family's attachment to the community has only deepened.

His wife, Kim, an educational supervisor at Kent State University, spent four years on the Nordonia Hills school board. Farhad's oldest son and daughter are Nordonia High graduates, and Farhad and Kim's younger kids are in third grade and kindergarten at Macedonia's Ledgeview Elementary.

"We've really been able to see the schools progress," Kim Sethna says proudly.

When Kim joined the school board in 2007, the district was aiming for the state's top report card rating of "excellent with distinction." Thanks to a communitywide effort — teachers undergoing intense professional development, principals analyzing test data, local seniors volunteering as tutors — the district reached its goal. Nordonia Hills (named after Northfield, Macedonia, and Sagamore Hills, all part of the district) hit all 26 of the state's standards for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

All that progress was threatened by Ohio's school funding squeeze. Voters rejected a new school levy four times in two years.

"We had to scale back," says Kim. "We did everything we could not to taint the academics, to keep our programs strong."

Finally, in November, Nordonia voters approved a new 6-mill levy. The 56-percent "yes" vote prevented further layoffs, a reduction in the length of the school day and deep cuts to art, music and Advanced Placement classes.

The vote preserved one of the greatest draws of Macedonia. Talk to residents about what attracted them, Kim says, and "most people will say the school system." It even beats out the town's convenient location and the modest cost of government.

"We have one of the lowest property tax rates in Summit County," Kim says. "You're getting a lot of value for your dollar."

Neighborhood Hot Spot

"It's a cluster development, all detached," says Howard Hanna's Julia Pastor of the Villa Lago development in Macedonia. "Most people are downsizing into that development, people who don't want to be responsible for landscaping and snow removal, but still want ownership of that property."

What You Get

Villa Lago Drive

Asking price: $189,900

Selling price: $183,000

Square feet: 2,220

No. of bedrooms: 3

No. of bathrooms: 2 1/2

Time on the market: 21 days

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