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Vote ‘Yes’ on Cleveland Schools Levy Renewal & Increase, Issue 68

Op Ed by La Prensa

 

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) wants voters to approve Issue 68—a crucial 15-mill renewal levy with a 5-mill increase on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot. The ten-year levy, first passed in 2012, is critical to future functions, because it expires at the end of the year.

The levy and increase would raise about $98.1 million per year. According to the superintendent, the levy and increase would cost the average Cleveland homeowner an additional $7 per month.

If voters defeat the levy, CMSD would immediately lose $67 million in annual revenue, based on current collection rates-- about 12 percent of the school district’s annual operating budget.

Voters first passed the levy in 2012 and approved it again four years ago, each time by a solid margin. However, COVID-19 and an associated economic downturn make its election outcome much more uncertain this time around. So might a longer term and a levy increase. Losing the levy vote would mean devastating cuts to staff and programs that are critical to continuing the district’s success.

Top CMSD administrators insist the levy is crucial to continue progress on the Cleveland Plan, including a 4.4 percent improvement in K-3 literacy since 2014, promotion of more than 85 percent of students to fourth grade under Ohio’s third grade reading guarantee, and four straight years of a Continuous Improvement designation on the state education report card.

The four-year graduation rate has climbed 26 points since 2011 and now stands at 78.2 percent, the latest in a series of record highs. That includes a 77 percent graduation rate for Latino students, which represents a 23.3 percent increase since 2011. CMSD’s top brass claim the district has “carefully controlled” expenses and has invested in its classrooms during that time. 

“We know this is a particularly difficult time to ask for an increase, and because of that we have worked to keep the amount as small as possible,” CEO Eric Gordon recently said. “But we believe the need to build on our eight-year record of progress, combined with the new educational needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, make it necessary.”

The levy has a unique aspect. Charter schools that partner with CMSD share 1 mill from the existing levy and would divide an additional half-mill from the increase. The Cleveland Plan, a customized blueprint for education reform in the city, calls for giving every student access to a high-quality education, regardless of the provider.

LaPrensa encourages Cleveland voters to “say yes” to CMSD so its upward progress can continue. Latino students are being put in a position of success, as are all CMSD students, giving them an opportunity to become successful and productive adults and citizens. A track record of success is now being shown—and voters should look at the levy as an investment in the future of the community. Children deserve—and need—the tools necessary to live their best lives.

 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/16/20 07:23:07 -0700.

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