Cincinnati School Board Approves Historic Levy Resolution

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Votes Unanimously to Ask Voters to Expand Preschool, Support Workforce Readiness

The Cincinnati Board of Education voted unanimously on May 23, 2016 to begin the process of placing a $48-million annual levy request on the November 8 ballot that would, for the first time, expand access to preschool while supporting community priorities for K-12 education.

Cincinnati Board of Education members (l to r) Daniel Minera, Carolyn Jones, Melanie Bates, Ericka Dansby, Elissa Hoffman, Eve Bolton and Chris Nelms.

Cincinnati Board of Education members (l to r) Daniel Minera, Carolyn Jones, Melanie Bates, Ericka Dansby, Elissa Hoffman, Eve Bolton and Chris Nelms.

If approved by voters, the five-year emergency levy would create a partnership with advocates for the Preschool Promise initiative, designating that $15 million annually would be earmarked for expansion of quality preschool in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), as well as community-based providers.

A crowd of supporters at the school board meeting at the district’s Education Center erupted into applause after the vote. Board members earlier praised the partnership, noting that it not only expanded preschool, but also provided funding to support community priorities for K-12 education – including up-to-date technology for students; strengthening neighborhood schools; and college and career readiness programs. District surveys show that these are top priorities for district parents and community members.

Board President Ericka Copeland-Dansby said the levy request had the potential to “transform lives, strengthen neighborhoods and improve the economic vitality” of the region.

“Ultimately, this investment is about more than Cincinnati Public Schools and the Preschool Promise,” she said. “This investment represents success for Cincinnati. It is a strong vision for our community to begin to break the cycle of poverty and prepare students for life from early childhood through graduation and beyond.”

The vote followed a presentation of a comprehensive study of the district’s financial operations, commissioned by members of Cincinnati’s business community at the request of CPS, indicating that despite fiscal accountability, the district faces a potential deficit of as much as $60 million in five years due to rising enrollment and flat revenue. Even with suggested cost-cutting opportunities to lower the deficit, the report concluded a new levy was needed to support continued CPS investment in quality teachers, educational technology, college and career readiness, as well as the preschool expansion partnership.

CPS’ last new operating levy was approved in 2008.

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