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Reporting on the state of education in your community and across the country.

Cleveland Metro Schools Levy Wins Voter Support

Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) CEO Eric Gordon said the district was at the end of a levy cycle and incurred extra costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the levy renewal and increase an urgent ballot issue for 2020. [Jacqueline Hawley / Cleveland Metropolitan School District]
CMSD remote class

Updated: 1:49 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) won a major victory Tuesday night, with its tax levy pushed through by 61 percent of voters.

Issue 68 includes a 15-mill levy renewal and a 5-mill increase that will stand for 10 years and cost taxpayers about $175 a year for every $100,000 of a home’s value.

The levy renewal comprised 12 percent of CMSD’s operating budget, or about $65 million, CMSD CEO Eric Gordon told ideastream Wednesday.

“I'm feeling very grateful. We knew this was going to be a really difficult time to ask even before the pandemic. Unfortunately, we were in a position where we had no real choice because doing nothing would have left a 12 percent budget reduction and massive cuts,” Gordon said.

Failure to pass the tax, Gordon said, would have required the closure of 25 schools and a $10 million reduction in staff.

But in the unofficial overnight tallies, Issue 68 was approved by 76,123 to 47,712 votes.

“What I think this says is that Clevelanders really understand the importance of our children and education in our community,” Gordon said, “and also of rewarding the positive gains we've made in reading and math scores and graduation rates. And their expectation is that we continue that investment and continue to return on that investment.”

The ballot issue drew opposition from a little-known and mysterious organization called “Cleveland’s Future Fund.” The group sent out mailers and posted anti-levy messages on Facebook saying Issue 68, if passed, would raise rents and hurt small business.

Cleveland Teachers Union President Shari Obrenski filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission about an address the group posted on its mailers.

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”