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Cleveland-area School Levies See Mixed Results in Initial Ballot Counts

voting booth
Rob Crandall

Updated: 2:45 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020

Cleveland-area voters appeared to have mixed feelings on school levies in Tuesday’s general election. Some communities approved additional taxes to support expansion and operations, while others lacked enough support to pass.

Unofficial election results early Wednesday morning showed  a proposed Euclid City Schools levy being supported by voters, with about 53 percent in favor of the 8.7 mill levy, but still too close to call. The district  failed to pass a similar levy in the past two elections.

“This support will allow us to provide our educators, our programs, our academic resources,” said Superintendent Chris Papouras Wednesday. “We obviously needed this revenue stream to continue our academic road to progress.”

The tax hike is meant to cover a funding gap caused by the previous failed levy renewal efforts, he said.

If approved, the levy would bring $5.6 million dollars to Euclid schools annually over the next decade. Without it, Papouras said, the district faces cuts to staff, athletics, arts programming and administration.

“It’s been very challenging, as we all know, during this pandemic,” Papouras said. “But we continue to provide quality education for our students.”

A proposed levy increase for Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools, however, is facing an even closer call. As of Wednesday morning, the proposal, which would cost taxpayers 48 cents for every $100,000 dollars in property value, had about 50.11 percent in favor – just 0.22 percent, or 65 votes, more than those opposed.

“We are cautiously optimistic with the results as of this morning,” Superintendent Liz Kirby said in a statement emailed to ideastream. “We trust the process and look forward to receiving the final results. Heights residents have proven time and time again that they are committed to seeing their public schools healthy and thriving.”

The community  rejected a proposed additional levy for the district earlier this year.

 “This levy is needed for CH-UH Schools to forge ahead with vital academic programming, equity work, extracurriculars, and strategic planning,” Kirby said. “This razor-thin margin is a testament to the fact that every vote is important.”

The CH-UH school district is anticipating potential changes as additional ballots are tallied in the next 10 days, according to a Facebook post.

Parma City Schools did not see support for  its proposed bonds and levy increase. Voters shot down the proposal, which would have allowed the district to issue bonds for construction on new school buildings for grades 6-12, as well as for renovations and at Parma Senior High School.

The bonds would have come with an increased levy to cover annual debt charges on the bonds, and the ballot issue included a second levy on property taxes to cover further work within the district.

In Richmond Heights, voters approved a renewal of the current tax levy with 54 percent in favor, amounting to 20 cents for each $100,000 in property valuation. The renewal lasts five years.

But the community did not support an additional levy, which would have added 59 cents per $100,000 to what homeowners currently pay. The additional levy would have been continual, and did not have a set end date.

In Fairview Park, however, voters approved a school levy increase, its first in 14 years. The levy will cost homeowners 79 cents per $100,000 in valuation, and will be continual. Roughly 64 percent of voters cast their ballots in favor of the proposal, which is expected to generate $3.2 million per year in school operating revenue.

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