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Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 6/21/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

TOLEDO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Board to discuss new-money levy for Nov. 4 ballot

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Public Schools may be back on the ballot this fall.

Toledo Board of Education members will discuss today whether the district should place a new-money levy on the Nov. 4 ballot. While board members have not yet decided on a levy, let alone specifics, a proposal to be presented to board members would be for a five-year, 5.8 mill levy.

The proposed levy would raise about $13.3 million a year, with an annual cost of $203 for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The levy, under the current proposal, would have a dual purpose. About $10 million would go toward general operating expenses. District officials said the current plan would be to use those funds to maintain current programs, to reintroduce student transportation, and to increase pay for some staff to compete with area districts that often pay educators more than TPS pays.

The remainder would be used for capital expenses, such as maintenance, athletic facilities, computers, or new buses.

“Nothing has been etched in stone,” board President Cecelia Adams said. “But we have to have a conversation.”

Board members frequently lament the district‘‍s decision in 2010 to stop busing high school students and reduce its transportation for elementary students to the state minimum of a 2-mile radius around elementary schools. Any elementary student who lives closer must find alternate transportation.

But while the matter is lamented, there’‍s little money to bring the service back. A new levy could dedicate resources to transportation.

“We hear from the community that they'd love to see [bus service] back,” TPS Treasurer Matt Cleland said.

While TPS’‍ budget is balanced for now, future years project deficits, district officials said.

Another source of frequent board complaints is that talented teachers and principals who have been trained in TPS leave for suburban districts because the Toledo district’s pay is not competitive with neighboring districts.

“We are really sick and tired of the area school districts picking off our best teachers and administrators,” Ms. Adams said.

Staff raises may be a tougher sell to voters than the return of bus services. And TPS, like other Ohio districts, has less success with new-money levies than with renewals.

Voters approved the 6.5-mill, five-year tax renewal request in November by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. That reversed a string of ballot-box losses. A year prior, a new 4.9-mill levy that would have brought $13.3 million annually lost 52.45 percent to 47.55 percent.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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