December 18, 2014

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Longtime North Ridgeville school board member ousted after election

Maria Sycz

Maria Sycz

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Tuesday’s election results saw a changing of the guard for the North Ridgeville school board.

After 10 years the board will no longer count Maria Sycz among its five members come January.

The current board president placed fourth in a four-candidate race for three seats that saw newcomer Marcia Saxon easily win her first term by a large margin.

Unofficial tallies from the board of elections had Saxon winning a board seat by 333 votes over second-place finisher and incumbent Kelly McCarthy.

Saxon, 39, garnered 3,965 votes to McCarthy’s 3,635.

Incumbent board member Robb Lyons placed third with 3,360 votes. Sycz, 44, was fourth with 2,740.

“I don’t know what to say at this point,” Sycz said Wednesday. “I’m really at a loss.”

Admitting she was surprised at losing, Sycz added it didn’t come “as a huge shock, either.”

“I put in thousands of hours over the past nine years to get us to the point where we’re at now, and it’s hard to think of not being a part of that anymore,” Sycz said.

Sycz, who served as board president for seven of her nine years, took note of the district’s progress during her years on the board to move from a system graded to be in “continuous improvement” academically to one that received “excellent” rankings from state education officials during the past few years.

When she got involved with the schools 15 years ago, the district was in state receivership over its finances.

“We’ve come a long way and made huge gains,” Sycz said.

Saxon, who co-chaired the North Ridgeville Citizens for Better Schools Committee, which promoted the bond issue, anticipated a victory for herself, based on “running a very solid campaign” that targeted specific voter groups including absentee voters, and saw her “knock on lots of doors during the summer.”

“I would have been shocked if it had not ended the way it did,” Saxon said. “Compared to what the other candidates were doing in terms of visibility and the scope of their campaigns, it showed me that I was really ahead.”

Saxon also credited her win to “a lot of community support and a lot of endorsements that helped keep my name out there.”

Saxon expressed surprise that Sycz was not returned to the school board by voters. “I knew somebody wouldn’t make it, but I was a little surprised that Maria lost given her years of service to the community and her name recognition.”

Saying the city is ready “for a new page to be turned,” Saxon said, “the sentiment I kept hearing was that people want something different. They didn’t give me specifics, only that they want a change.”

Both women expressed great satisfaction that voters said yes to the $58.1 million dollar bond issue to build a new middle school to ease the district’s longstanding overcrowding.

“That’s a huge accomplishment, however it was in the works for the past seven to 10 years,” Sycz said in explaining groundwork began to be laid for the current bond issue in 2006 when voters rejected another bond issue that would have underwritten a single campus at the site of North Ridgeville High School, where the new middle school will be built.

As for the future, Sycz has a number of projects in the works, including writing a history of the city’s schools dating to the early 1800s.

“I’ve probably got 700 pages of notes now, but I’m going to finish it and get it published,” Sycz said.

Sycz has also been “a driving force” in development of a transition for the district from paper forms to an all-electronic means of handling everything from student registrations to medical data.

As for working closely with the district and school board, Sycz said that remains to be seen.

“I’m not quite sure what the plan for me is yet, but there is one, and it will come with time.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.