After a variety of levy failures in recent years, leaders of Toledo Public Schools are hoping a renewal levy — not a new tax — will be met with approval by voters.
The 6.5-mill, five-year tax renewal request, which appears as Issue 24 on the ballot, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $150 a year. It provides the district with $13 million annually.
The school district received a levy endorsement from former Mayors Jack Ford and Carty Finkbeiner on Oct. 27. Mr. Ford and Mr. Finkbeiner reiterated that the levy’s renewal will allow the district to continue with its transformation plan, which involves neighborhood schools for students in kindergarten through eighth grades. TPS officials say the move has elevated academic performance.
Superintendent Romules Durant estimates that he’s conducted between 80 and 100 presentations to promote the levy.
The levy funds also would help sustain math and reading initiatives in TPS’ lowest-performing schools, now paid for with expiring federal grants. Another recently started program that would benefit from the renewal is Early High School Options, in which junior high-age students spend part of their days at high schools taking advanced-level courses. District officials also note that special education students showed growth after a new strategy moved most of them into regular classes instead of dedicated rooms.
Mr. Durant points to high marks on TPS’ state report card for academic growth among gifted students and the district’s lowest performers as evidence those strategies are paying off.
TPS officials admit that a loss at the polls would force immediate cuts, likely leading to increased class sizes among other changes. District forecasts show a balanced budget this fiscal year, but a small deficit would appear the next, and that assumes the levy passes, TPS Treasurer Matt Cleland said.