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Northeast Ohio school issues, races and levies: Wins and losses

Not all school districts with levies and races will be able to secure the requested funding and some new faces may be taking a seat at board meetings.

OHIO, USA — As the State of Ohio continues its fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, academic institutions continue to face many unprecedented challenges. 

On Tuesday, school districts across Northeast Ohio pinned hopes on voters as they cast ballots on school levies and in some cases, controversial school board races. Some districts are seeking help to lessen or eliminate financial deficits while others have races in which candidates want to tackle mask policies and the critical race theory. 

Not all the school districts will be able to secure the requested funding and some new faces may be taking a seat at board meetings. Here's a look at some of the region's top races and issues and as soon as results are in, we'll let you know how they fared. 

For complete results for all Northeast Ohio schools that had a levy, issue or race, CLICK HERE. (We will have them available throughout the night at WKYC.com and the 3News app.)

Northeastern Ohio Districts with most contentious school board races: 

Hudson 

  • Diane Demuynck and Mark Justice are challenging the current incumbents
  • Both oppose the mask mandate in schools
  • UPDATE: Both Demuynck and Justice failed to win seats

Cleveland Heights / University Heights 

  • Incumbents Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, and Jodi Sourini being challenged by “New Voices for a New Direction”: Charles Drake, Maureen “Mo” Lynn, and Mordechai Rennert,
  • UPDATE: Heintz, Lewis, and Sourini have all held onto their seats

Rocky River 

  • Three candidates are running on a shared platform that critical race theory undermines the beliefs and values parents instill in their kids.
  • UPDATE: Jessica Wilson, Negrey, and Peter Corrigan were each elected to the Rocky River School Board. Corrigan is one of the three candidates mentioned above. 

Chagrin Falls 

  • Three-person slate criticizing critical race theory.
  • A petition was signed by 60 residents to stop diversity initiative immediately
  • A plan with a banner reading “Muzzle the school board, not our kids” plane was flown on the first day of classes
  • UPDATE: Lori Bendall, Lauren Miller, and Robert E. Schleper Jr. were each elected to the school board. 

Lakewood

  • School Board meetings have been plagued by mask mandate criticism throughout the year
  • UPDATE: Nora Katzenberger and Betsy Bergen Shaughnessy have been elected. 

Mayfield City School District 

  • A was filed against the district last month in regard to the mask mandate “violating their children’s constitutional rights.”
  • Both Ron Fornano and Jimmy Teresi are in favor of supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion programs as well as in-school masking and vaccines.
  • On the other hand, Brian J. Belfiore, Benjamin Stocum, Jolene Greve, and Erin Sipos are more opposed to critical race theory and social and emotional learning.
  • UPDATE: Greve, Fonaro, and Teresi all secured seats on the board.

Nordonia Hills 

  • Several issues in the past few years have caused issues in the spotlight such as mask mandates, facilities, and diversity.
  • Three open seats are available. 
  • UPDATE: Amy Vajdich, Matt Kearny, and Jason L. Tidmore Sr. each were elected to the school board.

North Royalton

  • "2 Voices for You" candidates Jeremiah Sawyer and Lisa Shuck unseat incumbents Jackie Arendt and Terry DeLap.  

Northeast Ohio Levies: 

Parma- Issue 52

  • First passed in 2007, currently generates nearly 15 percent of the Parma Police Department’s 18 million budget.
  • Levy is vital for police departments costs
  • UPDATE: The levy passed by 64.52 percent.

Strongsville- Issue 68

  • Renewal of a five-year, $6 million property tax that has helped pay for operating expenses
  • Will not raise taxes for property owners
  • UPDATE: The levy passed.

Lorain - Issue 37

  • Residents will have to pay an extra $238 a year if their house is valued at over $100,000
  • Will give the school district over $4 million annually for operating expenses
  • If it fails, financial fallout will be big
  • UPDATE: The levy failed to pass.

Broadview Heights- Issue 5

  • Renewal of 3 million property tax to help pay for City Hall’s operating expenses
  • Does not raise taxes any more
  • UPDATE: The levy passed. 

Avon- Issue 5

  • Levy renewals for the Police Department
  • UPDATE: The levy passed.

Issue 6

  • Levy renewals for EMS
  • UPDATE: The levy passed. 

Solon - Issue 56

  • $0.5 million levy renewal for the service and safety department in Solon
  • UPDATE: The levy passed. 

As hot button issues take center stage at local districts, more school board candidates are on the ballot for this year's elections in the state of Ohio.

“I think what we’re seeing now is the strongest polarization with school boards,” said Rick Lewis, executive director and CEO of the Ohio School Board Association.

Lewis said there’s been about a 50 percent increase in the number of school board candidates compared to four years ago.

“ I think a lot of the interest comes from these contentious debates where people want to change policy.”

There are a number of issues that have led to those heated debates. Lewis advises voters to look beyond party lines and a single issue.

“Whether they’re right or wrong on a mask mandate, or vaccination, or critical race theory, ok so you accomplished that," said Lewis "Now you got four more years on your watch. How are you going to improve learning?"

3News is your go-to source for complete 2021 election day coverage. Download the free WKYC app to get alerts sent to your phone the moment results start coming in after polls close at 7:30 p.m.

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report. 

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