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Published: Sunday, 6/22/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

$13.3 MILLION A YEAR

TPS ponders putting new levy on Nov. 4 ballot

School board decides to vote before survey results are in

BY MAYA AVERBUCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Toledo Board of Education decided Saturday to vote Tuesday on placing a five-year, 5.8-mill levy on the Nov. 4 ballot, despite not having the results of a community survey on the proposed tax.

During a school board retreat Saturday, members raised concerns about public perception of such a levy and the possibility of altering the district’‍s preliminary budget after it is released to voters.

If passed, the levy’‍s estimated $13.3 million annual revenue would be spent largely on routine operating expenses such as employee salaries, with some funds set aside for improving athletic facilities, school computers, and bus transportation, according to the current proposal.

“People are going to see this as a promise,” said Bob Vasquez, the school board’‍s vice president.

However, the referendum language would allow TPS to redistribute funds if necessary, according to Matt Cleland, the district’‍s treasurer.

The levy would represent Toledo schools’‍ first new tax since 2001 if approved, Mr. Cleland said.

The board has only a few months to make its plans clear to district parents. Until the results of a survey conducted by Triad, a marketing group, are released in three weeks, the board will have no guidance about voters’ likely willingness to pay what amounts to $203 for each $100,000 of their homes’‍ value.

“We’‍ve already missed a huge amount of opportunity in our community,” board member Lisa Sobecki said.

District staff are still working out specifics of the proposed changes, such as how to reduce the pay gap of thousands of dollars between Toledo administrators and teachers and those in neighboring districts, and how to make the bus services that were reduced to state minimum levels in 2010 more cost-effective.

Chris Varwig, another board member, estimated the district could save nearly $1 million by delaying some school start times, though board President Cecelia Adams said the transportation needs of TPS’s significant special-education population could preclude such a change.

In other business Saturday, Amy Allen, the district’s newly appointed early childhood coordinator, reported that a transition for Toledo’‍s Head Start program is well under way.

The federal government announced in June that it would grant TPS $8.1 million to run part of the city’s Head Start program, and the coordinators are in the process of selecting classrooms across the city for the largely low-income participants.

TPS will hire about 90 people to run the program, some of whom may be current employees of the Community Development Institute, which now operates Toledo’s Head Start, Ms. Allen said.

CDI staff will receive letters with the list of available positions, required credentials, and application instructions at the end of next week. However, CDI will not release any information about employees’‍ performance, so they will be evaluated solely based on their qualifications and interviews, Ms. Allen said.

Contact Maya Averbuch at: maverbuch@theblade.com, 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @mayaaverbuch.



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