Cleveland Heights and University Heights residents will see another school issue on the ballot Nov. 3. A 7.9-mill levy failed April 28 with 6,734 votes against to 6,120 votes for. Now, residents will see a $4.8-million tax levy on the November 3 ballot.
“The decision to ask our community for a levy in November was not an easy one,” Jodi Sourini, president of the CH-UH board of education, said in an Aug. 11 news release. “We understand that many Heights residents are facing economic instability right now. But after a levy failure earlier this year, a freeze in state funding, and on top of it all a global pandemic, our district is in a dire financial spot.”
Sourini said the levy will generate funds needed to educate the district’s children “in whatever environments we find ourselves in throughout the coming school year.”
The levy would cost a homeowner about $168 a year per $100,000 in home valuation.
Due to new EdChoice voucher legislation signed into law in March, the district anticipates losing a minimum of an additional $1.7 million this fiscal year, bringing the total estimated EdChoice-related loss to at least $9.2 million. The district budgeted for a $7.5 million loss.
“We cut 20 positions in April of 2020 and made significant cuts in each department’s budget – nearly $2.5 million in total reductions – in order to make up for this shortfall,” CH-UH Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby said in the release. “Future cuts will run much deeper if this levy does not pass in November.”
The district previously committed to $750,000 in annual budget cuts over the next several years. It will now commit to $2 million in spending reductions for the 2021-22 school year.
Sourini has promised that the district will not take more than it needs.
“If it comes to pass that we do not need all of the monies generated by the levy, we will take action to halt tax collection from the community,” Sourini said in the release.
The Tiger Nation 4 Lower Taxes Political Action Committee opposes the levy. The volunteer group is described on the committee’s website as Cleveland Heights–University Heights citizens who are concerned about the sustainability and future of their community.
“We feel that the tax burden is a threat to our most vulnerable; the elderly, those on fixed income, the low income, our impoverished, the disadvantaged and young individuals with high debt,” the website says. “We need to look out for these citizens and protect them from being overtaxed.”