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Published: 10/7/2010

Massive public forum on TPS reform in the works

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell addresses the media Thursday following a meeting with Bob Vasquez, president of the Toledo Board of Education, back right, at One Government Center. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell addresses the media Thursday following a meeting with Bob Vasquez, president of the Toledo Board of Education, back right, at One Government Center.
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Residents will have their say this year at a massive community-wide forum about how the red ink-plagued Toledo Public Schools should be run.

Mayor Mike Bell and TPS Board of Education President Bob Vasquez announced their still-vague plan Thursday morning to hold the event.

They don't yet have an exact date. And the mayor estimated the meeting might cost about $20,000. He said raising private money to pay for it would be an option.

The idea is to gather the best ideas from the entire community about how to reform TPS and change the way it does business.

The forum is based on a similar public school event that was held in Meade, Wash., and produced results, they said.

"To me, everything is on the table," Mr. Vasquez said.

The announcement comes a month before voters are being asked to approve the largest-ever new money levy in TPS history as the district faces yet another mammoth budget deficit next school year.

A group of 25 or so business, higher education, city, and public school leaders has been meeting in private this year to talk about how to reform TPS and to develop the idea for the community-wide forum.

"It's almost like a retreat, a community-wide retreat. We've already agreed that this is going to happen," Mayor Bell said. "You really only get one shot at this."

The school system has faced deficits each of past several years, and an income tax levy in May failed by nearly 2 to 1, prompting layoffs and deep cuts to services.

The district is facing an estimated $44 million budget hole next school year and is asking for a 7.8-mill property tax levy.

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick at:

ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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