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Monthly Luncheon for the Solon Chamber of Commerce

We started the day on Wednesday, May 20th, at the monthly luncheon for the Solon Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, we were not able to make the recent meeting where Mayor Susan Drucker gave her annual State of the City address but we got to talk to her about it at this time. We told Mayor Drucker that we were very sorry that the planned India Center fell through due to financial problems. Mayor Drucker agreed with us because Solon and the surrounding communities have a sizable Indian/Asian population and this would have been a real contribution to the community.

We respect the diversity of Solon and talked to Mr. Joseph V. Regano, the Superintendent of the Solon City Schools about it. He told us that the ethnic breakdown is about 14% African American, 12% Asian, and 2% Hispanic/other which is quite significant. Quite a few of the students and/or their parents are foreign born. and the latter work for such entities as University Hospital, the Cleveland Convention Center and Nestles and take a very active interest in their children's education.

We feel that this is only appropriate because on this day the students awarded scholarships by the Solon Chamber of Commerce were recognized. During the program, Ms. Julie Zonnevald, Head of the Scholarship Committee for the Solon Chamber, told us that the Solon School District gets high marks from the state of Ohio each year and that it has been praised by such publications as the "Cleveland Magazine" and "Newsweek". Mr. Regano has been the superintendent starting in 1987 when the district had 2,400 students, a number that has since climbed to 4,800.

At this luncheon, 11 scholarship students were recognized although none of them spoke. We were a little sorry about this because we have found that students can be very insightful, articulate speakers. Agreeing with us on this point was Mr. Bob Paul from Keller Williams who had heard several young people speak at a recent rotary function. At lunch we shared a table with Ms. Peggy Dorfman, Solon's Economic Development Director, and Ms. Barb Janca, Solon's Building Department Director, who both agreed that it is amazing how much the students who were honored can be involved in so many extra-curricular activities such as service to the community and still manage to maintain a high academic average. In fact, several of them had been accepted by such colleges as Harvard and Princeton.

During his address, Mr. Regano mostly spoke about the need for the members of the chamber to contact their elected officials regarding the possibility of further cuts to the Tangible Personal Property (TPP) reimbursement from the state of Ohio. In Solon, schools are receiving $2.4 million less a year due to previous TPP funding cuts. The remaining TPP reimbursement to the district is $8.3 million a year and represents 13% of its operating budget. Thus, it would be very difficult for the Solon schools to maintain their high standard of excellence and endure further cuts.

Not only were most of us supportive of what Mr. Regano was saying, we signed postcards addressed to Senator Tom Patton on the spot. Another member, Mr. Hal Becker of The Becker Group, collected all of the signed cards and promised to pay for the postage and mail them himself.

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