The Board of Education, at its Feb. 4 meeting voted unanimously to request that Cuyahoga County place a 3.9 mill operating levy on the May 7, 2013 ballot. It would be the lowest millage request for a levy since the 1970s.
An operating levy is needed to maintain excellent education in Lakewood. In the last two years, Lakewood Schools lost more than $6 million in state funding cuts, funding that is unlikely to return. The district has also seen a decline in property tax collections going back as far as 2009. To address this reality, the district recently made more than $8 million in cuts that included reducing staff, reducing course offerings, freezing base salaries and increasing staff health care premium contributions.
"We have taken significant cuts in state funding and made significant cuts to our programming and now we are at the point that to maintain the programs our community told us it wants requires us to take this action (of placing a levy on the ballot)," Board President Ed Favre said.
Patty Ryan, president of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, attended the Board meeting to offer a letter of endorsement of the levy, signifying the business community’s support of the effort.
"As it is critically important to maintain the quality of the programs and services for students in the Lakewood City Schools, Lakewood residents must know that the only way to protect and continue our excellent academic quality is to approve the proposed 3.9 mill levy," Ryan read from the endorsement letter.
The passage of the levy is critical to the future success of our children and our community. If approved, the levy would cost a Lakewood homeowner $10 per month per $100,000 of home value.
Levy funds would:
Protect reasonable class sizes by providing enough teachers.
Update outdated textbooks, technology, materials and programming.
Help increase the high school graduation rate and college attendance
Provide up-to-date technology to every student so they are prepared to compete for today’s jobs.
Continue local business partnerships to offer students real world learning experiences.
The Board’s decision comes after months of community meetings held last year where Lakewood residents helped school officials determine the future of Lakewood Schools, including identifying budget reductions and top priorities.