Toledo Public Schools leaders say they will release detailed information next week on exactly how the 2.5-mill levy renewal on the Nov. 8 ballot will be spent.
A proposal to use some of the nearly $24.4 million generated by the tax over five years for the district's new building program has fueled criticism from three candidates running for the Toledo Board of Education and mayoral candidate Carty Finkbeiner.
John Foley, chief of staff for Toledo Public Schools, said the criticism is unwarranted.
"We are going to develop some information and make it public," he said. "At that point, we will let the public decide if they want warm, safe, and dry schools or if they don't."
The 2.5-mill levy, which has helped fund the school system for 20 years, costs the owner of a $100,000 home $38 a year and pays for building upkeep, general permanent improvements, some renovations, furniture, and computer software.
The tax, which will appear as Issue 37 on the Nov. 8 ballot, also would pay for 200 new security cameras at the existing elementary schools and "unforeseeable incidents," such as a major flood like the one recently at Beverly Elementary, Mr. Foley said.
Any leftover money could be applied to the new building program, Mr. Foley added.
One proposal presented to the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce showed more than half of the money would pay for brick facades and sloped roofs on the district's new buildings, which are now-required features under Toledo's building code.
On Thursday, Christopher Myers, Darlene Fisher, and Robert Torres, who are campaigning under the slogan "3 for change," said the school board is misleading the public as to what the 2.5-mill levy would fund.
Yesterday, Mr. Finkbeiner said he would not support the levy if any of the money would be used for the new building program.
His opponent, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, endorsed the levy on Tuesday. The other candidates for the board of education - incumbent Steven Thomas and challengers Jim Whiteman and Steven Steel - all support the levy.
Toledo Superintendent Eugene Sanders said because the state is phasing out the tangible personal property tax, the levy will generate about $600,000 less over the next five years than it has been.
"It is very important that people listen to all perspectives and, at the end of the day, I think they will appreciate that this is not a new tax," Mr. Sanders said. "We are used to opposition, and I think they have gotten into the minutiae of detail."
Mr. Sanders said the law now gives school districts more flexibility on how to spend renewal levies.
Seventy-seven percent of the new building program - which could total $770 million - is being funded by the state, while the remaining 23 percent is paid for by local property owners from a 4.99-mill, 28-year levy Toledo voters approved in 2002.
The original program, which was to replace 57 schools and renovate seven others, originally was to cost $821 million. Plans for seven new schools could be scrapped because of declining enrollment.
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