Out-of-control school spending is destroying the Heights

The CH-UH school district spends money at astronomically high levels, and it’s devastating our community. The district’s budget shows that it plans to spend $615 million over the next five years. That is $200 million to $250 million more than every other comparable district in Greater Cleveland—other than Shaker; we are “only” spending $80 million more than them.

Do you have the income to pay more than $72,000 in property taxes, the highest rate in Ohio, on your $130,000 home over the next 12 years, or $132,000 on your $130,000 home over the next 20 years? This is what is coming down the pike if we don’t dramatically change course.

Is it more expensive to educate low-income students? Then why does Euclid, a district with more students than Heights, and one that also pays out vouchers, spend $399 million vs. our $615 million?

When you run the numbers out into the future, they truly become absurd. At annual 2.5-percent budget growth, the CH-UH district will spend more than $1 billion more than Euclid over the next 20 years, to educate fewer kids.

Then you look and see that our median household income is $36,397. And when you run the numbers, at 2.5-percent yearly budget growth, you see that because of our enormous budget we have astronomical property tax increases coming over the next 3 to 12 years. And you see that our tax delinquency rates are already increasing to frighteningly high levels, which is truly terrifying because it means we are destroying our taxpayer base.

And, no, this isn’t about vouchers. Even if you take the entire $28-million five-year voucher expense off the table without offsetting the corresponding state revenues (which the district has yet to show), we still are spending $52 million more than Shaker, $171 million more than Solon, $193 million more than Strongsville, and $188 million more than Euclid.

The numbers make it extremely clear that we lack the income base to support our property taxes at current tax levels. Raising them further will destroy the Heights.

For the sake of our community and its long-term viability, we have to vote “NO” on the 2020 levy. The current path is not close to being sustainable, which is not fair to anyone, especially our kids.

Geoff Johnson

Geoff Johnson is an attorney who has lived in Cleveland Heights for more than 20 years. His wife graduated from Heights High. 

Read More on Opinion
Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:54 AM, 01.03.2020