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

Voters OK 5 School Levies, But Cleveland Heights-University Heights Fails

Tiger Nation 4 Lower Taxes rallied voters to say no to Issue 26 and maintain lower property taxes. [Annie Wu / ideastream]
We love living in the Heights sign in front of a Cleveland Heights home.

The majority of voters did not support the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in Ohio’s extended primary, despite a strong push by the district and supporters.

In the early morning hours, the Cuyahoga Board of Elections released unofficial results showing the levy failed with only 48 percent of votes in its favor, by a margin of more than 600 votes.

The 7.9 mill levy would have brought in 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. 

Mail-in and provisional ballots must still be counted.

For months, the levy was a divisive issue for district residents. The group Tiger Nation 4 Lower Taxes rallied against the levy, arguing it would make the CH-UH School District the most heavily taxed district in Ohio. Seniors and low-income families in the area can’t afford to pay higher property taxes, Tiger Nation members contended in a debate with Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby.

The school district plead their case to the public by arguing the schools had lost $7 million to the state’s EdChoice voucher program and would be forced to make some difficult decisions if the levy didn’t pass.

Kirby said she was disappointed in the levy results.

“I do understand this is a really tough time for our community for many, many reasons. It's really unfortunate because the way that our state funds the EdChoice vouchers really damages our district financially and many other districts as well,” Kirby said in the early hours of Wednesday, after hearing the primary results. “We've already started the very painful process of making cuts in our staff and cuts in our operational budget to the tune of two and a half million dollars and likely we'll have more cuts on the horizon.”

Voters also opposed a school levy in Euclid, where 52 percent of the votes were against a proposed 10-year, 8.7 mill emergency operating levy. The tax hike would have provided $5.6 million for the Euclid City Schools while raising property taxes on a $75,000 home by about $19.03 a month. Euclid voters previously rejected a levy in the November 2019 general election as well.

Other local school levies in Northeast Ohio fared better in the extended primary, including:

A 4.9 mill operating levy for Lakewood City Schools, which passed with 77 percent of the vote.

The 6.9 mill levy for South Euclid-Lyndhurst Schools was approved with 59 percent of the vote. The measure allocates 5.9 mills for general operations and 1 mill for general permanent improvements throughout the school district and will cost homeowners roughly $250 per $100,000 of a home’s value.

A ten year, 4.94 mill levy for Willoughby-Eastlake Schools was approved by 57 percent of voters after the last two attempts to pass similar school levies for the Willoughby-Eastlake district failed .

A 7.9 mill levy expected to generate $5 million annual for Canton City Schools was approved with 55 percent of the vote.

The 8.9 mill operating levy for Olmsted Falls City Schools was also approved. It is expected to cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $300 dollars a year.

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