The Cleveland School overhaul deserves our support, including the levy

This summer, we saw a very encouraging example of true bipartisanship in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is in very serious trouble. Cleveland’s population has declined, while expenses have soared. The district ranks 608 out of 611 statewide in academic performance, and was looking at a $60 million shortfall.

Mayor Frank Jackson, a Democrat, knew that bold action was required, and came up with an aggressive plan to save the schools for the city’s kids. He immediately found an ally in Governor Kasich, who worked with the state legislature to make it happen. Democrats, Republicans and even the teachers union came together to hammer out a plan that seemed unlikely.

Governor Kasich and Democrat State Senator Nina Turner (Plain Dealer Photo – Joshua Gunter)

Governor Kasich said,

“When adults fight, children get lost in the shuffle. In this case, everybody got together and demanded that children be placed first.”

The bill was sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats. For the first time, teachers in the district will be paid according to their performance in the classroom. Tenure is basically gone. Teachers will no longer be assigned to buildings based simply on seniority, but must be approved by a team of the principal, parents and teachers at each building.

The plan is only half of the solution, however. Mayor Jackson still has a major shortfall to cover, and will be proposing a new levy to Cleveland’s voters.

Ohio voters have been rejecting levies at a record pace lately. And who can blame them? Many of the same school systems asking for money have been irresponsible with tax dollars, refusing to change their methods.

But in this case, Mayor Jackson and the teachers have put together a plan for change. A plan that says, “Listen, we know we have problems to fix. Here is our plan to get better.” They did this before ever asking taxpayers for a dime.

Jackson told a Cleveland news station,

“People aren’t gonna vote for a levy if all you can tell ’em is is, to expect just the same old thing,” he said. “But now we’re able to say to people – you can and should expect a different and a better outcome.”

It sets a great example. And an example that deserves a chance.

When schools like Lorain increase spending because they got one-time stimulus funds, and then whine to voters that they don’t have enough money, voters actually should shoot them down.

But if there was ever a reason for skeptics to support a school levy, the Cleveland plan is it. There hasn’t been a levy increase passed in the city since 1996. A successful turnaround in Cleveland would show struggling districts around the state how to do it right, by showing parents and voters that they are willing to change, instead of asking voters to throw more money at the same failing system.

Democrats and Republicans came together to put the kids first. Hopefully, Cleveland’s voters will join them. This bipartisan plan deserves the chance to succeed.

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Author: Nick

I was born and raised in Ohio. After growing up in the Columbus area, I moved to Cleveland to study at Case Western Reserve University, and have lived in Northeast Ohio ever since. I live in Wellington with my wife and son. I work in the private sector and have never worked in the political field.

7 thoughts on “The Cleveland School overhaul deserves our support, including the levy”

  1. I will support a levy when they show me why, with all the money they have now, they are still using science books in high school printed in 1987!

    Heck, NO !!!! No More Money until we ELECT our school board and can hold them accountable.

    Sorry, John, but perhaps you should know your bed partners before kissing them goodnight!

  2. I was wondering where you were going with this, but I have to admit you make a good point.

    I’m sick of seeing signs planted in my neighbor’s yards begging for more school cash when they don’t promise to change a thing.

    Make a real change first, then ask. In a way, this Cleveland Plan may inspire other districts to get on board and fix things first.

  3. As a suburbanite who works in the city of Cleveland we are sick and tired of our taxes going towards a community who refuses to help itself and continues to vote the same old tired politicians into office who continue to drive the city even further into the gutter (and that not only goes for local officials but state/fed representatives as well). We’re guessing that it is the majority of taxes coming from others like us who live in the burbs but work in the city who foot the bill. So while we won’t have an opportunity to vote on this, we’ll most definitely have to cover the cost if/when it passes. If we wanted to pay for Cleveland, we would have lived in Cleveland–having to pay taxes in the community you work as well as in the city you live in is a racket!

    1. Er…you realize that the school district runs on property taxes within the district, and not Cleveland city income taxes…right?

      Oh. It appears that you don’t…

      So while we won’t have an opportunity to vote on this, we’ll most definitely have to cover the cost if/when it passes.

      Um…no you won’t. If you don’t live in the school district, then you would not be affected.

  4. Vote NO to Issue 107

    A DEFICIT is not a bad thing. It keeps our fiscal budget streamlined and helps government run more efficiently. NOT having a deficit only encourages future government to create one.

    All residents will pay higher rents.

    All property owners will pay higher property taxes.

    There is no exemption for the elderly and disabled.

    Increased property taxes will result in additional property foreclosures.

    Struggling low income residents will be forced to move out.

    Increased rent rates, due to higher property taxes, will drive residents out of Cleveland.

    Increased property taxes means lower property sales.

    This Levy affects all residential and commercial properties.

    Eliminating a $55 million dollar deficit will NOT stop future deficits, but rather encourage them.

    Ohio Lottery and Cleveland Casino taxes are being squandered by government officials (including Mayor Jackson). These funds were PROMISED to assist schools and education. Where are these funds?

    In 2010 Ohio Lottery paid school districts more than $728 million dollars. These funds are currently being misappropriated.

    Cleveland School Board misdirects funds: They hire high-paid attorneys to increase and inflate your property values, resulting in increased property taxes and increased rent rates.

  5. They do NOT deserve our support because they aren’t responsible with budgeting. If they we’re responsible with budgeting and needed a boost, I can understand. However, they have created a mess and not Cleveland voters need to clean it up on November’s election day. Get rid of the corrupt politicians!

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