Levy To Support Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools Debated
Residents packed the Cleveland Heights Community Center to hear arguments for and against a new levy to support the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.
The 7.9 mill levy, which appears on the March 17 primary ballot, would raise more than $8 million in new revenue for the school district and add roughly $275 in property taxes per year for every $100,000 of a home’s value.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, FutureHeights and Reaching Heights hosted the event.
On behalf of the group Citizens for Our Heights Schools, CH-UH Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby told the crowd the levy was necessary to make up for the financial hit the district is taking from EdChoice, the state’s largest voucher program. This year, 1,400 students in the school district are using EdChoice vouchers, costing the local public school system roughly $7 million.
Tiger Nation 4 Lower Taxes argued for a “no” vote on the levy, saying the school district is already one of the highest taxed in Ohio and high property taxes are dissuading people from moving into the community.
An outside audit should be conducted to determine ways the district can cut costs, rather than put the burden on the taxpayers, said Maureen Lynn, speaking on behalf of the Tiger Nation group.
“We formed this group because we recognize that our community is going to be the highest taxed community in all the state of Ohio,” Lynn said. “We have a lot of poverty, low income, middle income, young families that are struggling to get by and the taxation has exceeded the point where they can actually pay.”
Kirby said the district is already actively looking at ways to save money and would be forced to make some hard choices if the levy doesn’t pass.
“We’re going department by department, looking for fiscal savings,” Kirby said. “We're looking at the academic achievement in our schools and the needs of our schools and seeing where can we make cuts. Do we need to reduce some of our athletic programs? Do we charge our athletes now to participate because that'll save money? Do we charge you to pay for the buses and the transportation and those things?”