TPS will go to voters for funds

5.8-mill levy would help district reintroduce bus transportation


Toledo Public Schools will be back on the ballot in November.

The Toledo Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to place a five-year, 5.8-mill new money levy before voters. If passed, it would raise about $13.3 million a year, costing the owner of a $100,000 home $203 annually.

Much of the levy’s revenue will maintain services and bring back elements cut from the budget in recent years. About $10 million would go toward general operating expenses, with part paying to reintroduce bus transportation.

Some of the money would be used for employee salaries or continuing programs. The rest would be used for capital expenses.

Superintendent Romules Durant said TPS is not banking on new money for changes. The district has started new programming with current funds. The new-money levy would go toward services that facilitate the new programming, he said.

He pointed to new initiatives he’s started in the last year, such as converting Jones Elementary into a Leadership Academy with single-gender building wings and new career technology offerings.

“We are prioritizing our budget to provide innovation,” he said. “Now, we need to get students there.”

In 2010, TPS stopped busing high school students and reduced transportation for elementary students to the state minimum of a 2-mile radius around schools.

Board member Chris Varwig pointed out that state law requires the district to provide the same transportation service to students at charter schools and those on school vouchers, so the benefit of increasing transportation options won’‍t just go to TPS. “It‘‍s not just for our district,” she said. “It’‍s for the entire city of Toledo.”

Part of the money would go to retain top teachers and principals, who TPS officials frequently say are trained in TPS but leave for suburban districts for higher pay.

TPS will have to make the case the new money is needed, even though it won’‍t go toward programs that necessarily improve academic achievement.

The district faces a tough challenge in convincing voters to pass a new-money levy.

Voters haven’t approved new money for TPS since 2001, and such levies are traditionally harder to pass in Ohio than renewal levies.

“Tax levies are unpopular,” board Vice President Bob Vasquez said, “but it’‍s something that we have to do.”