Issue 26 is symptom of larger problem
Voting against Issue 26 doesn’t mean that we don’t support our schools, nor that we don’t love our community. Voting against Issue 26 at this time will help ensure a bright future for the Heights. The CH-UH Board of Education (BOE) prefers to ask for more money before making a substantial effort to cut expenses. Furthermore, the state of Ohio has yet to determine the future of the voucher program for 2020, and to request a tax increase at this time is entirely premature.
The BOE threatens that vouchers are robbing the public system to pay for the various school alternatives. The reality is that the impact of vouchers is minimal compared to poor budgeting and overspending by the BOE. [In its] own publications, the BOE cites it has cut $750,000 from its annual budget. Do the math: this is 0.5 percent of the budget—one half of one percent! Not a very earnest reduction in spending.
The district continues to overspend on services and an expensive teachers' union with heavy contracts, benefits and pension plans. The BOE needs to reconsider heavy administrative costs and overpriced services, consolidate elementary schools, sell assets, and re-negotiate benefit packages. And, when necessary, jobs must relocate—the same efforts that individuals make when faced with a budget challenge. Personally, I've changed jobs four times in nine years due to downsizing—it’s a fact in America; why should a teachers union be exempt?
The CH-UH BOE perpetuates an unsustainable, failed strategy of raising taxes. Our community has proven its support of our schools by approving 10 school levies in the past 19 years—tax levies that never expire. If approved, Issue 26, combined with the other 10 levies, [will] cost homeowners $5,100 per $100,000 of property value. That's an impactful amount of money to every homeowner in the Heights.
Why do we choose to live in the Heights? Because of unique homes at an affordable price that lie along tree-lined streets of safe, walkable neighborhoods. Another tax increase will make Cleveland Heights the highest-taxed city in Ohio, and discourage new arrivals while driving current residents out of their homes. Without clarity on the state's position on vouchers, approval of Issue 26 would be premature. Voting “no” on Issue 26 encourages the BOE to remain within its budget and ensures the future vibrancy of our unique community.
Dan McNeil is a 25-year resident of Cleveland Heights, who has lived at four different addresses. He is a community volunteer, married father of two, works in healthcare, and is apolitical.