TPS won’t place levy renewal on spring ballot

Board cites too little time to mount solid campaign


A Toledo Public Schools levy renewal won’t be on the May ballot after all.

The Toledo Board of Education was set to vote Tuesday on a board finance committee recommendation to place the district’s operating levy before voters in May.

The finance committee met just last week, but one of its two members changed her mind since then, and other board members expressed concern about the levy’s likelihood of passage, the short time frame for a decision, and questioned whether district administrators had a viable plan to develop a successful levy campaign.

A motion by board member Bob Vasquez to place the levy on the May ballot did not receive a second and died.

The finance committee will continue discussions next month about whether a special election should be held in August on the renewal levy, or if the ballot should be considered during the November general election.

The five-year levy is for 6.5 mills and generates about $13 million a year for the district. It was last approved by voters in 2008 with about 61 percent of the vote, and it runs out at the end of the calendar year.

Committee members were presented Friday with several options for possible levy requests this year, including ballot questions in May, August, or during the November general election, or to pursue a new levy, a replacement levy, or a renewal and new money levy at the same time.

They ultimately rejected asking voters for new money this year, and chose to recommend a renewal only for the May ballot.

Vice President Cecelia Adams, the finance committee member who changed her mind on the levy, said she was concerned TPS couldn’t raise enough money for a strong campaign, and noted the district has failed in its last three attempts to pass a levy, including in November.

Waiting may be more prudent, she said, and allow TPS time to make its case to voters.

“We will have March and April, two months,” Ms. Adams said, “and it begs the question, can we mount an effective campaign in that little bit of time?”

Board member Lisa Sobecki questioned why board members weren’t given more time to consider the levy date.

The deadline is Feb. 8 to place a levy question on the May 7 ballot. Ms. Sobecki administrators should have had a plan for the renewal levy ready earlier this year.

“It’s very important that we have this renewal pass,” she said. “If this was so important to the administration, then we should have had a plan.”

Waiting until November for the renewal levy would give the district only one shot at passage, which was the reason the finance committee recommended the May date. Mr. Vasquez said he had received no information since Friday to change his opinion.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:nrosenkrans@theblade.comor 419-724-6086.