School officials in Cleveland and Akron are celebrating today after voters resoundingly approved levies on the ballot for both districts. Ideastream's Michelle Kanu reports the tax increases mean the districts can avoid making some cuts to programs later this year.
Dozens of Cleveland Schools levy supporters gathered at Tower City in Downtown Cleveland and danced to the tunes of Zapp and Roger for much of the night as the election results steadily showed the tax increase passing.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says the campaign for the 15 mill levy was successful because so many constituents supported it.
Jackson: "It was a true community effort. A community effort by the business community and the labor. A community effort by public schools and charters. A community effort by the philanthropic community. Everyone got involved."
That community effort raised over 1.7 million in campaign dollars for one of the largest tax issues on the ballot in Northeast Ohio.
The measure will bring in $65 million dollars annually over the next four years, or about ten percent of the district's operating budget. District CEO Eric Gordon says the money will largely go toward implementing a broad reform plan and help restore some of the cuts made in the last two years.
Gordon: "I think the first priority is to take a look at the k-8 school day where we cut 50 minutes and see if there's something we could do to get kids back in school for a full school day."
Across town the Akron Schools are also celebrating. The district passed a 7.9 mill levy that will bring in 19 million dollars a year. Superintendent David James says that money will help them preserve some things that were previously on the chopping block.
James: "Right now we're looking at keeping our career education programs, our specialty programs and not having to make severe staffing cuts that would affect the classroom."
Like Cleveland's officials, James says the levy's passage was crucial to ensuring the district doesn't fall into fiscal oversight by the state.