Heights schools deserve a new levy

The Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District has shown continual improvement in recent years, and current plans show promise to dramatically boost student achievement in the coming years. 

Before those plans can produce results, our community first has to pass Issue 6, or our schools will face very tough times ahead. In the past four years, the district has cut more than $7 million in spending, and if Issue 6 fails on Nov. 8, it will face another $7 million in cuts that will impact the quality of education. With almost $4 million in additional state cuts scheduled in the next two years, every dollar counts. 

Thus far, the CH-UH schools have been careful to avoid making cuts that would significantly affect the students in the classroom. Teachers, administrators, and all employees agreed to a two-year pay freeze to avoid faculty layoffs and protect the quality of the education provided in the schools. The last levy was stretched to four years–even longer than expected–in order to try to avoid making more cuts.

However, it seems that now those additional cuts would be unavoidable. If the levy does not pass, the district will be forced to cut spending in areas crucial to our children’s education—dozens of teachers will be laid off, technology initiatives will be thwarted, and busing to and from school will be drastically reduced. In addition, student resources, such as school counselors and social workers, would be cut.

With this levy, the schools could ensure that all children are at or above their respective reading levels by third grade; they could continue to provide specialized classes, such as Mandarin Chinese, so that students can be competitive in the future business world; and they could continue to offer arts and after school programs, including athletics. The levy would also ensure that classrooms do not become overcrowded and that the student-to-teacher ratio remains low so that students receive the most individualized and rewarding education possible. 

CH-UH is a unique district in which administrators are focused on providing the best education and resources possible to their students, regardless of background or prior educational experience. CH-UH employs many different programs to ensure students’ success, including programs helping students facing poverty, advanced programs for gifted students, and special programs for students with disabilities. The ability to provide these programs is all contingent on continued funding, which is why supporting this levy is so important.

The Heights schools have a reputation for excellence; they have been nationally recognized for the strong education that the district provides to its students. The levy would enable schools to continue operating and improving, and provide students with new and innovative technology and opportunities so that they can learn to be competitive and competent leaders in the future. 

Passing the levy will enable CH-UH schools to continue to provide the best education possible, which is important not just for the students in school, but also for the community as a whole. Without a strong school system, property values decrease, community ties weaken, and families will overlook the Heights area when contemplating a move. This levy is important to everyone. This is also the smallest operating levy in more than 20 years—only $6.9 mills. The cost to taxpayers if the levy passes is only about $17 more per month per $100,000 of home value, but the cost to the schools if it does not pass is immeasurable.   

Jon Benedict

Jon Benedict is a Cleveland Heights resident and a membver of Citizens for Heights Schools.

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Volume 4, Issue 10, Posted 5:01 PM, 10.06.2011