Board votes to place levy on ballot
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to seek renewal of a 15-mill levy and ask voters to add 5 mills.
The issue, which will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, is for operating expenses. Approval would help the District to continue progress made under The Cleveland Plan and pay for needs caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Approval would add $7 a month for the average Cleveland home. The levy would come up for renewal in 10 years. Voters first passed the levy in 2012 and renewed it four years ago, both times by comfortable margins.
“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 said earlier this month. “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.”
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.
If that levy is not renewed, it will expire at the end of the year. CEO Gordon has said that losing the revenue would result in cuts to staff and programs that are critical to continuing the District’s success.
Under The Cleveland Plan, CMSD has demonstrated growth in test scores that ranks among the strongest in the state. 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 for the District.
The existing levy raises about $67 million a year, 12 percent of the District’s operating budget. The $67 million figure is based on current collections, which stand at about 88 percent of the amount due.
The existing levy and increase combined would raise an estimated $98.1 million if the collection rate reached 100 percent. The CEO has expressed concern that economic problems caused by the pandemic will drive collections lower than the current level.