To the editor:

To the editor:

It has been seven years since my husband and I began visiting various central Ohio communities to find the best place to raise our family. During our first visit to New Albany, we fell in love with the community, and we knew immediately our search was over.

We appreciated the array of unique neighborhoods, but that a sense of total community connected them across the invisible boundaries of the village, township and Columbus. Of course, most important to us was that the public school district was truly the foundation, the centerpiece of the community. We were thrilled when our ensuing research showed that the district's academic record, educational programming and teaching staff matched the spectacular brilliance of its buildings. We believed the New Albany community -- soon to be our home -- would be exactly the kind of place worth fighting for.

It wasn't long before that belief would be put to the test. In 2006, I co-founded the responsible retail committee to fight for my immediate and nearby neighborhoods and the entire New Albany community to stop a developer from rezoning land to build an 180,000-square-foot Target or Walmart and other big-box retail at state Route 161 and Hamilton Road. We were not opposed to development of the land, but we were committed to quality development standards and protecting our community against broken promises and inappropriate development that would forever alter the fabric of our community. The countless hours of hard work paid off, thanks to neighbors working together. Our families, our neighborhoods and the New Albany community are all better and stronger as a result.

I believe our community faces another defining moment that, one way or another, will shape our future. This time it is the future of our schools that are worth fighting for.

We stand at a fork in the road, and selecting the right critical path for our children's future is at stake. Because I believe this is so critically important, I am launching my candidacy for the school board to fight for our children. I believe immediate steps are needed.

First, we must appoint an independent audit committee of experts to complete a comprehensive audit of the district's finances and report the clear and actual findings to the community. We must put our financial house in order and restore trust in the district's financial reporting. It's easy to understand why so many taxpayers no longer have faith in the district's financial information and decision-making. Last year, officials portrayed that additional taxes were imperative to maintain operations without significant budget reductions affecting the classroom. However, a $16.4-million operating-fund surplus at the end of the last year of our levy cycle and a $2-million permanent-improvement-fund surplus in the last year of the five-year cycle together indicate that no new taxes were needed. If district officials knew this information last fall, they should have informed the community. If they didn't know, they should have.

Second, we can achieve greater academic excellence, but we must have a plan. Like every parent with children in the NA-PL schools, my husband and I are pleased with the classroom experience and education our son and daughter have received. NA-PL teachers are the best, and we're proud that our schools have achieved an A+ rating from the state of Ohio.

Like most parents, we believe our schools could achieve even more. We are blessed with an abundance of resources, potential partnerships and supportive village leaders. Combined with the richness of our teaching staff, a strategic plan should allow us to be among the best public and private schools not only across Ohio, but also across the country.

Third, all of this and more can be achieved not with new taxes, but with new leadership. Our entire community once again wants to embrace a philosophy of cooperation, a belief in partnerships, a value placed on community dialogue and participation and a vision for true excellence.

In the months ahead, I look forward to continued, healthy dialogue and debate with parents, homeowners, teachers and community leaders about how we could take our schools to the level of excellence we all believe we can achieve; restore trust in our financial reporting and decision-making; and determine the type of leadership that could achieve both.

Cheri Lehmann

New Albany

To the editor:

On behalf of the New Albany Community Events board, I would like to thank all parade participants, spectators and village officials for making this Independence Day truly remarkable. It was a picture-perfect day with one of the finest parade turnouts in recent years as spectators lined the streets with flags, smiles, cheers and overall great enthusiasm for the parade procession.

This year New Albany Community Events (NACE) was fortunate to secure several music groups to participate while maintaining cost efficiencies. The New Albany High School band led the parade, followed by the Buckeye Brass Band and the Apple Core 4 Barbershop Quartet. Before the bands, the New Albany police honor guard marched and was followed by Cub Scout Troop 150 from New Albany.

A new addition this year was the Hampsted Estates neighborhood float, organized by Keara Bingman and Kara Litle. At the front of the parade we enjoyed the Nationwide Children's Hospital bicycle parade unit and the patriotic decorated tractors driven by members of the Land of Legend Antique Tractor Club.

Parade grand marshal Dr. Glyde Marsh took the lead in a horse and carriage provided by New Albany Village Council. Mayor Nancy Ferguson and village council members rode in a New Albany service department truck. We had several antique cars, courtesy of Tom Marasek. Carrying the "New Albany, Ohio" banner were Amanda Schockman, daughter of NACE treasurer Lynda Schockman, and Chloe Challacombe, daughter of former New Albany Community Events board member Bryn Challacombe.

Many thanks go to the units of the police and fire departments, especially to officer Joe Duff and his horse, Smokey, for providing security and safety along the parade route. Extended thanks go to the parade volunteers who helped, from setup and staging to tea down, and Wayside Flower Shoppe for decorating the grand stand: president Ron Kendle, secretary Sandi Blunt, treasurer Lynda Schockman, Laurie Clouse, Charlie Evranian, Andy Wirt, Jamie Hemphill, Brian Bilow and, from Clearview Church, David. Words cannot express the gratitude for your commitment to the village and the success of the parade. In addition to these fine folks were many volunteers and Scouts who assisted with the banners.

This year's parade was an impressive display of community unity, from the walking groups to the floats. The mayor presented awards to the three float winners. The theme award went to Fenway family and friends, Vitellas, Ralston and Fachman families. The mayor's award went to Hampsted Estates. The presidential award was presented to New Albany Links.

Thanks also to Eric Remeis, of Yard Solutions, for use of his trailer where the Buckeye Brass Band rode in the parade, and for the sponsorship of Fifth Third Bank and Insurance Office of Ohio. Thank you, master of ceremonies Bob Nunnally, with special thanks to Ron Kendle for his assistance. A job well-done by all.

Jodi Boals

Vice President

New Albany

Community Events Inc.