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After Levies Pass,Cleveland & Akron Schools Still Face Budget Holes

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 4:40 PM

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Schools CEO Eric Gordon thanks Clevelanders for supporting the district's 15 mill levy at a Watch Party in Cleveland.

A day after passing new tax increases, Akron and Cleveland Schools’ officials are anxious to put the money to good use. But as Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports, the levy funds won’t completely close existing budget gaps in either district.

The Akron Schools levy is expected to bring in $19 million a year, and Superintendent David James says that will go a long way in restoring some programs.  But the extra funds alone won’t keep their budget in the black.

James: “We promised our voters we were not going to put the burden entirely on them, so with the levy passing we will still have to make approximately $9 million in cuts.”

In Cleveland, schools chief Eric Gordon is in a similar situation.  Despite passing the district’s first new source of operating funds in 16 years, he faces a $13 million budget hole. 

Gordon: “It isn’t that we suddenly stop talking about money, or being concerned about money. We have to be very, very vigilant about how we use those dollars, but certainly it gives us a new set of resources to do some things better for our kids.”

Gordon says he’s planning to use some of the money to lengthen the school day for some elementary kids, and to invest in different models of schools. 

A handful of privately run charter schools that partner with the district are among those that stand to benefit. John Zitzner founded Breakthrough Schools, one such group of charters connected with the district. 

Zitzner: “We know that in total all charter schools partnering with the district will have to share a little over $4 million.”

State education dollars that go to local districts already follow kids to charter schools, but Zitzner says the sharing of local property taxes with charters is unprecedented in Ohio.  He says he hopes to see that expanded to school districts statewide. 

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Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Education, Government/Politics, Elections

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