Issue 15: City tax levy renewal for Cincinnati Public Schools: Yes
Issue 16: New city tax levy for Cincinnati Public Schools: Yes
Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) has come back to city voters with a request for a new tax levy that basically repackages the one that failed in November. City voters turned down the school system's bid to raise $24 million a year to help restore earlier buget cuts.
With Issue 16, CPS makes the same pitch as before, but with added goals — most significantly reducing class size in kindergarten through third grade and hiring more teachers. The levy would raise about $39 million a year "for a continuing period" (i.e., forever).
The levy amount is 6.5 mills, which would cost the owner of a $75,000 house an additional $149 a year.
Issue 15 seeks to combine two existing five-year levies into one, but to do so before either levy expires. The new levy would raise $65 million a year to continue funding general maintenance, teachers and staff.
The levy amount is 10.9 mills and doesn't raise taxes, since it combines existing levies at their current rates.
Once again, it's time for city voters to decide if our public school system is worth our time, energy and money. CPS hasn't been able to pass a new operating levy since 1995, mostly because of the public's impression that the system is wasting taxpayer money while losing student population and paying teachers too much.
Frankly, we're tired of everyone whining about the city's schools. We're tired of politicians preening to appear as "education leaders" while voting down or sitting on funds that could help the schools. These invariably are people who don't send their children to Cincinnati's public schools.
CityBeat has done a number of stories in the past few years about the city's struggling school system, and three groups of people always rise above the debate over money — parents, students and teachers. These people care, and they care with a passion.
There's no way you can convince us that less money for CPS helps parents, students and teachers. Sure, it probably forces CPS administration to trim more here and there and puts pressure on city council, county government and the state to pitch in.
But screw them. They're just politicians looking for the next photo op.
Think about the parents who lined up at the crack of dawn to get their kids into CPS magnet programs. Think about the parents who fought hard to keep the Cincinnati Academy of Math and Science going. Think about the teachers who worked their asses off in the last few years to make do with less.
CityBeat urges passage of both Issue 15 and Issue 16.