Parent volunteers urge support for public schools

To the Editor:

As many in our community are already aware, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education has voted to place an operating levy on the March ballot. I am a member of Citizens for Our Heights Schools, a committee of parents and residents volunteering to ensure the successful passage of this levy. It is never easy to step up for this task, but I do it because I know it is necessary.

The way Ohio funds public education—long deemed unconstitutional—requires districts to return to voters every few years just to keep pace with inflation. Through careful budgeting and cutting of excess expenses, CH-UH has stretched the most recent levy to last four years instead of the projected three. But this year, there is additional need due to the devastating financial effect that EdChoice vouchers have had on our public schools.

The expansion of vouchers to include children who have never attended district schools, coupled with the state’s two-year freeze on public school funding, means that CH-UH pays out more dollars in EdChoice vouchers to private and religious schools than it receives in per-pupil funding from the state—up to $10 million more. There is simply no way to close this gap while continuing to provide a high-quality education for our district’s children without asking voters for their support. If this levy doesn't pass, the projected $5 million in needed cuts would include 67 full-time staff—a loss that would be felt by every student across the district.

You will hear a great deal more about this issue in the coming weeks and months, both in our local news and on social media, and I urge you all to have an open mind. Listen to the experts, consider the importance of strong public schools to a community, ask respectful questions when you need to. In the end, I hope you will stand by me and the rest of the steering committee—Kristi Bidinger, Phil Trimble, Saroya Queen-Tabor, Andrea C. Turner, Jon Benedict, Karen Rolfe, and David Tabor—in voting yes for our public schools.

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher
Cleveland Heights
(A freelance writer for the CH-UH City School District, Dietrich Gallagher  wrote this letter as a volunteer.)

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Volume 13, Issue 1, Posted 9:56 AM, 01.03.2020