Cincinnati School Board Votes to Proceed with Levy Request
Ballot Issue Will Ask Voters to Expand Preschool, Support Workforce Readiness
The Cincinnati Board of Education voted unanimously on August 2, 2016 to proceed with placing a $48-million annual levy request on the November 8 ballot that would, for the first time, expand access to preschool while supporting community priorities for K-12 education.
If approved by voters, the five-year emergency levy would create a partnership with the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, designating that $15 million annually would be earmarked for expansion of quality preschool in Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), as well as through community-based providers.
In addition to preschool expansion, Cincinnati Public Schools would use levy revenues to expand quality school options including strengthening neighborhood schools; preparing students for college and careers and improving workforce readiness; extending student access to technology; and other essential educational expenses. In approving the resolution, Board of Education members noted that these areas of focus reflect the priorities of the district’s stakeholders in responses to surveys and community feedback.
“We have a historic opportunity through this partnership to expand access to preschool while simultaneously strengthening K-12 education so that students are better prepared to succeed in college and careers,” said Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ronan. These are exciting times for families, students and the entire community, which ultimately stands to benefit from a better educated, thriving workforce.”
The five-year, emergency levy would raise $48 million annually. A total of $15 million a year of that amount would be designated to expand access of families to quality preschool, starting with the most economically disadvantaged children. Research has demonstrated that an investment in quality preschool yields long-term educational benefits, especially for children living in poor families and when connected with a strong K-12 educational system.
“Having a strong talent pool is key to our economic competitiveness. The data behind the value of investing in quality preschool is irrefutable,” said Cheryl Rose, Senior Vice President at Hawthorn PNC Family Wealth and a co-chair of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise Steering Committee. “As a business leader, I recognize the compelling case for investing taxpayer dollars in quality preschool: $6 return for every $1 invested. The rising tide lifts all boats and this investment will both strengthen our economy and make a meaningful dent in poverty in our community.”
CPS’ last new operating levy was approved in 2008. Since then, according to an independent financial review commissioned by Cincinnati’s business community, the district has reduced costs to stretch revenues, but now has growing enrollment and faces educational harmful multimillion dollar deficits that would rise to $60 million annually.
If approved by voters, the issue would cost the owner of property valued at $100,000 an additional $5.35 a week.