On behalf of our community, focus on state school funding
Whose numbers should you believe about our public schools’ financial status? Should you believe the information presented by the school district and school board, whose work is controlled by legal mandates, and is audited yearly; which has some expertise in this particular field and is committed to the noble goal of continually improving its practices and outcomes for all of the children it serves? Or should you believe in [information from] a recently created [anti-levy] group that has chosen to engage negatively with an organization in which [its members] previously had little or no interest or investment?
I’ve been actively engaged in our public-school community since my child entered kindergarten 10 years ago, developing wonderful friendships, engaging in countless uplifting and community-building experiences, and witnessing ever so much good in our children, families and staff. It’s gratifying to be part of a diverse and striving community so critical to the functioning of a successful economy and society.
Over the years, I and others have worked and advocated for changes and improvements within the system. With every new administration and school board, I’ve seen well-intentioned and hard-working individuals making steady improvements to policies and practices, even while under constant pressure to cut spending and confront challenges posed by state policies over which they have no control.
It’s so disappointing and disheartening when other community members accuse us of lying, of being members of a cult and of being selfish. While I share their dislike of levies, I recognize the facts that the state legislature has failed us with school-funding policies that depend too heavily on local property taxes and require us to pass periodic levies just to keep up with inflation. I’ve traveled to Columbus to testify on our community’s behalf and spent hours writing and calling legislators about how harmful these policies are to maintaining strong communities.
The law and data are confusing so I can see why many of you are confused, but if you really care about our community, then advocate honestly and with good intent to make the changes where they’re most needed. That’s at the state level and that’s a fact.
Joan Spoerl has been a proud resident of Cleveland Heights since 2004, and is the mother of a sophomore at Heights High. A former kindergarten and preschool teacher, she is currently working to promote optimal early literacy experiences for children.