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Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 9/13/2003

TPS bid for levy renewal to be more aggressive

BY SANDRA SVOBODA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Public Schools' campaign for the November levy renewal will be more aggressive, focusing on higher voter turnout and more publicity about the district's accomplishments, Superintendent Eugene Sanders said yesterday.

“Failure is not an option in this community. Failure this November is something the district simply cannot afford,” he said.

Speaking at a meeting of the Committee for Schools, the political action committee that campaigns for district levies, Dr. Sanders met with about 70 community leaders, parents, current and former district employees, and parents.

They promised their support.

“I am here for Toledo Public Schools and the children,” said Edna Robertson, a retired principal who is active with several civic organizations.

November's levy renewal would continue a three-year-old, 6.5-mill levy for five years. It raises about $16 million annually for the 35,000-student district. The district's August attempt failed 55 percent to 45 percent with about 17 percent voter turnout.

Dr. Sanders said the campaign's finance committee - one of several task forces that will work toward specific campaign goals including voter turnout, parent and student involvement, and business leadership - will attempt to raise $200,000 to finance the eight-week campaign.

“We have to be on television this time,” he said. “We want to get this out.”

The district raised $103,815 and spent $107,536 for the failed August effort, according to campaign finance documents filed yesterday with the Lucas County Board of Elections. The committee had a balance of $5,149 when the campaign began.

The largest individual contributor for the August levy was the Toledo Federation of Teachers union, which gave $7,500. Dana Corp., Owens-Illinois, Inc., and Buckeye TeleSystem contributed $5,000 each, according to the records.

Block Communications, Inc., owns Buckeye TeleSystem and The Blade.

The Committee to Take Back Our Schools, a political action committee formed in late July that financed anti-levy efforts, raised $674 in monetary donations, largely from members of the Urban Coalition, a network of district watchdog groups.

The largest donors were Twila Page, secretary of the African-American Parents Association; Tyrone Sturdivant, whose wife taught in the district for a year and sued Toledo Public Schools when her contract was not renewed, and the group Parents for Public Schools. Each gave $100, according to the board of elections filings.

The Urban Coalition and board of education President Peter Silverman had discussed having board members meet with coalition members in a public meeting that was scheduled tentatively for Tuesday.

Both Mr. Silverman and Steve Flagg, a member of the coalition, said yesterday they were doubtful the meeting would take place.

“There's a problem with finding a moderator. That's about all I know at this point in time,” Mr. Flagg said.

But Mr. Silverman said three of the five board members decided they didn't want the meeting after coalition members insisted only they be allowed to speak during the meeting.

The coalition also wanted Dr. Sanders to be excluded from the talks and for coalition members to sit with the board at a head table if other public comment was allowed, according to district records.

“All we've asked is that the same rules that applied to the citizens of this community be applied to the board during this meeting,” Mr. Flagg said.



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