CH-UH district seeks support for November levy

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District will place a 5.5-mill operating levy on the November 2016 ballot. This request, the smallest in more than 20 years, is necessary for the district to continue meeting its mission, which, according to the district’s website, is “to provide a challenging and engaging education to prepare all our students to become responsible citizens and succeed in college and career.”

CH-UH voters last approved an operating levy five years ago, in November 2011. The levy was expected to last three years but, through careful spending and strategic cuts, the school board and administration have stretched those dollars over five years.

Because state law freezes the dollar amount going to school districts at the time of last approval, district budgets are unable to keep up with regular cost-of-living increases. In fact, the district is currently operating with a smaller budget than it had in 2011, due to state cuts and the loss of money to charter schools and voucher programs. This fact makes passage of the upcoming levy vital for the success of the schools.

Kal Zucker, board of education president, said that while he is “proud of our fiscal discipline, which allowed us to stretch the funds from the last operating levy five full years, this makes our need to pass the current levy even more crucial.” The Lay Finance Committee (LFC), which recommended the low millage to the board of education out of “consideration for the desires of the community not to raise taxes more than necessary,” agrees. “This levy is necessary to maintain at least our current programs,” said Jayne Geneva, LFC chair.

Volunteers of Citizens for Our Heights Schools, chaired by Lisa Hunt, Ryan Routh and Dallas Schubert, will run the levy campaign. This committed team of district parents will be joined by University Heights resident Abby Botnick, serving as treasurer, and many others, including me.

Because this levy coincides with the presidential election, a much broader swath of voters will need to be reached than in past years, resulting in an expensive and expansive campaign. Campaign chairs recognize that this will be a difficult task and welcome an “all hands on deck” approach from school supporters. According to Schubert, “The need for the dollars this levy will generate is real, and it is urgent. We need as many school families and school supporters to step up and actively participate in this effort as possible. There is so much at stake.”

Zucker agrees. “We have great respect and gratitude for the support our community has shown our children in the past, and we hope they see that the need, along with the potential, has never been greater.”

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, a graduate of the Heights schools and a former Coventry School teacher. She is a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH City School District, and is proud to raise her two sons here.

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Volume 9, Issue 8, Posted 6:39 PM, 07.28.2016