Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Board puts renewal levy back on ballot

Voters will see the same Toledo Public Schools millage renewal request on their November ballots as they did last week after the board of education last night authorized another attempt to pass the operating levy.

“It's vital to the district that this levy pass,” board President Peter Silverman said.

The 6.5-mill, five-year renewal was defeated 55 percent to 45 percent last week with about 17 percent of voters turning out. First approved in November, 2000, after a defeat in March of that year for 6.9 mills, the operating levy provides about $16 million annually for the district's roughly $328 million budget. It expires at year's end.

Because the issue is a renewal and not a replacement, it would be collected based on the 2000 property values for the district.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

School officials credit the levy with helping the 35,000-student district to reduce class sizes, raise test scores, and fund innovative programs that have improved academics.

Board members last night acknowledged that organized opposition to the levy was, in part, a reason the levy failed.

“There is mistrust and I think there's probably mistrust of me personally. That's something I will try to rectify in the next few months and hope it doesn't reflect on the district,” Mr. Silverman said.

The Urban Coalition, a network of district watchdog groups, campaigned against the levy in the weeks before the election. The coalition called for changes in evaluations of first-year teachers, the building construction program, and the district's discipline policy.

Flute Rice, a retired Toledo Public Schools principal who is president of the coalition, said last night the group had not decided how to approach the November election.

“The Urban Coalition is alive,” he said. “We will be around.”

During the 15-minute board meeting, members said they wanted to meet with coalition members both privately and in a public forum.

“It is my recommendation as a board member that we at least sit down with the group and talk about the issues,” board Vice President Terry Glazer said.

Board member David Welch said he would prefer a public meeting in advance of the November election.

“In a public meeting, we can get things out in the open. You can see where there are agendas,” he said.

Board member Larry Sykes said he would be willing to meet privately with opposition leaders.

“We should be able to sit down and settle our differences,” he said.

Steve Flagg, co-president of Parents for Public Schools and a member of the coalition, said the group would like to meet with the board members as well.

“We want to make something happen that allows us to move forward,” he said. “We want to talk about broader reforms. We said that all along.”

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