LWV Heights chapter endorses school levy Issue 26
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland endorses passage of Issue 26, a proposed tax levy for current expenses of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.
Policies recently enacted by the Ohio state government have created a sudden financial crisis for our local public schools. Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program—which is based on school ratings using questionable testing practices and dated testing information—was expanded to affect more schools, and to provide vouchers to private-school students who had never attended public schools.
The state’s practice of paying for EdChoice vouchers through deductions from affected districts’ state aid, the unexpected inclusion of Heights High on the EdChoice school list, and the expansion of EdChoice eligibility to private school students with no prior connection to the public schools precluded the district’s ability to plan for the near-term financial impact of this program. In addition, over the past few decades, the state has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately fund public education throughout Ohio.
The LWV’s positions assert that public education is of utmost importance for our democracy; that funding must be sufficient to ensure a quality public education; and that responsibility for that funding rests with both the state government and the local community. Furthermore, LWV maintains that public funds for education must be totally accountable to publicly elected officials. Therefore, the LWV does not support the use of public funds for private education, where the funds are completely under the control of a private entity.
The LWV’s endorsement of Issue 26 is based on these positions and a genuine concern for how failure of the levy will impact the health of our local public schools. This concern was reflected in a polling of our membership, which demonstrated overwhelming support for the levy.
The group opposing the levy has presented suggested areas for savings that the school board could, and perhaps should, consider for future economies, but we feel that defeating the levy at this point would do irreparable harm to the schools, the students, and ultimately the community.
The LWV calls on all Heights citizens, regardless of where they stand on this issue, to come together and support public education and the Heights public schools. We urge all to contact Ohio legislators and advocate changes in both the EdChoice program and current school funding system that would benefit our public schools and local taxpayers.
Maryann Barnes is chair of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland.