Quolke's Corner #135

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It would be difficult for anyone to convince me that passage of Issue 107 is not one of the most essential issues on the ballot for the students and citizens of Cleveland.  Educating our young people is not only about learning to read and solve mathematical problems - it is the road to prosperity and a promising future.  That is why a school district must be focused on succeeding – not surviving.  This issue gives us a chance to focus on success for all children in Cleveland and not surviving another wave of budget cuts.  That is why the Cleveland Teachers Union has endorsed and supported this levy since day one and we urge all of our members and citizens of Cleveland to vote YES on Issue 107.

The last time that a levy was passed in the city of Cleveland was 1996.  That means it has been 16 years since the school district has had any increase in revenue.  Actually, in the last 42 years only 3 operating levies have passed in the city of Cleveland.  The rising cost of utilities and the cost of doing business, the dramatic decline in property tax collections, and continued reductions in funding from the state have put the Cleveland Schools on the brink of state receivership. 

We are all well aware of the impact that tax-abatements have had on the schools, in addition to the inability for the state legislature to create a constitutional school funding system.  Both of these issues have been challenged through ballot initiatives and the courts, yet there has still been no movement.  The reality is that as much as the way that schools are funded needs to change and that tax abatements have harmed the schools – a levy is the only mechanism that exists right now to increase revenue for the school system.  It is unfortunate, but levies are how schools are funded in Ohio.

Those that have been most greatly impacted by these cuts are the students of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  Among other things class sizes have increased, text books funds have been eliminated, and technology improvements have been stalled.  Schools and individual educators have written grants and reached into their own pockets to provide students with what they need while minimizing the impact of the budget crisis on the children of Cleveland.  While schools and educators individually have done a yeoman’s job of trying to maintain a high level of educational opportunity, the deficit has just grown too large.  This school year our kindergarten through 8th grade students have a school day that is reduced by 50 instructional minutes and these students  have limited exposure to art, music, physical education, and media.

It is critical to support a levy to bring much needed resources back to the classroom.  It is impossible for this school district to continue to cut their way out of a budget crisis - it is imperative to increase revenue. The avalanche of cuts must stop so that the main focus of this school district and all educators can be on increasing academic achievement and life-long learning. 

In Union,