CH-UH schools are the foundation of our cities
We are rebuilding University Heights. After years of hearing it can’t be done, we’re redeveloping University Square. We are building new houses and townhomes. We have added bike lanes, improved our housing stock, rebranded our city, and worked together to build a sense of community through events such as Fall Fest, our revamped summer concert series, and our inaugural City Beautiful 5K run.
But the foundation of any successful city is a successful public school district. University Heights was established on the foundational strength of educational opportunities. We need to protect our foundation on March 17, by voting Yes on the CH-UH school levy.
Like you, I wish there wasn’t a need for school levies in University Heights, or in any school district in Ohio. The way Ohio funds its schools was declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court 23 years ago. For nearly a quarter century, we have waited for down-state politicians to fix it. But they haven’t, in spite of the efforts of our own representatives. The burden falls on us to protect our public schools.
Paying more isn’t easy—even if it is just 76 cents per day, per each $100,000 of home value. But what’s the cost of not passing the levy?
Around the state, communities that have failed to invest in their schools are paying the price. Fewer people want to live there. In addition to the lost opportunities for our children, property values fall.
In contrast, people want to live in University Heights. In the first half of 2019, more homes sold in our city than were sold in all of 2018. In 2019, the median sales price for homes in University Heights exceeded $150,000 for the first time since the real estate crash of 2008. Property values are growing stronger in 2020. We need to protect our home values, and protect the families who live in those homes. We need to ensure University Heights continues to be viewed as a great place to live and raise a family. Passing the levy helps to do that.
If we don’t pass the levy, our kids and our community will be increasingly at the mercy of the whims of politicians in Columbus, or worse, their continued inaction. I trust Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby to fight for what’s best for our students. I trust University Heights’ own Jodi Sourini and the rest of our school board to do the same. Passing the levy gives them the resources they need to continue this work for the children of our community.
Columbus has failed to address the inequities in school funding. They’ve implemented a state report card system that fails to reflect the merits of our school district, and considers data from eight years ago instead of the improvements instituted by our current school board and its recent successes.
Nobody locally is to blame for the school funding problem, but we have to take responsibility for protecting ourselves from it. We’re all in this together, including those of us who don’t have children enrolled in the public schools. Even if your children attend private school, our public school district acts in a supporting role, from busing, to facilities and playing fields, to developing IEPs (Individual Education Programs).
The future of our students and our cities depends on keeping the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District strong, and working at making it stronger. We must protect the foundation of our cities.
Please join me in voting Yes on the school levy on March 17.
Michael Dylan Brennan
Michael Dylan Brennan is the mayor of University Heights.