Issue 7 will help Toledo district meet needs of studentsWritten by John Foley | | email@example.com
It has been an exciting year for Toledo Public Schools. On the first day of school, 10 state-of-the-art schools opened across the district. These new facilities offer our students an inviting learning environment that supports and enhances teaching in today’s world. District-wide we have celebrated continuing student academic achievement. Last year’s standardized testing showed record-setting scores in:
- Third-grade math;
- Fourth grade reading, math and writing;
- Fifth-grade reading;
- Seventh-grade math;
- Eighth-grade math and reading.
These high levels of success, along with the ranking of Continuous Improvement, according to state standards, being achieved by two small schools at Libbey High School and one at Scott High School, demonstrate that school reform programs work when given a chance. Other exciting TPS initiatives for this school year include the introduction of district-wide pacing guides, comprehensive school improvement plans and continued promotion of the importance of parental involvement in our schools. Success in this area was realized when we recorded noticeable increases in participation for parent-teacher conferences.
As you can see, there is a positive momentum building throughout Toledo Public Schools, and we are asking area voters to help keep the momentum moving forward by voting for Issue 7 on Tuesday, March 4. Issue 7 is a renewal of our current operating levy — it is not a new tax. Issue 7 is a five-year levy that was first approved by voters in 2000 and then renewed in 2003; it raises approximately $15,800,000 each school year for district operations. Passage of Issue 7 will sustain district funding at its current levels and provide TPS with the flexibility to address student achievement while promoting learning in a positive, supportive environment.
A “yes” vote for Issue 7 directly impacts our students and the district’s ability to provide them with the best possible educational opportunities. Issue 7 will also allow Toledo Public Schools to maintain smaller class sizes and personalized instruction. It provides funding earmarked for essential programs that directly impact student learning, while improving classroom services, enhancing technology, updating textbooks and other important instructional materials and supplies.
As superintendent, I have worked diligently to oversee budget objectives that maintain a stable educational environment for our students. As a result, the district did not have to take drastic budget-reducing steps this fiscal year. Zero-based budgeting was introduced, allowing funding to be allocated across the district based on enrollment and need. Strict cost containment measures have been implemented over the past several years, which is another way TPS maintains strict financial accountability. The reduction of 935 positions since 2003, closing 10 schools and having employees pay an increased percentage of their health care costs are examples of substantial steps that have been taken in an effort to reduce spending.
If Issue 7 does not pass, Toledo Public Schools will face the daunting task of reducing the budget by nearly $16 million. To make such cuts would adversely impact every aspect of the district’s day-to-day operations. Neighborhood schools could close and there would be a potential for additional layoffs to teachers and administrators. Class sizes would increase and safety and security plans could be underfunded. Essential programs that directly impact student learning could be discontinued, along with tutoring programs and after-school activities. The consequences would be devastating.
That is why it is so important for the community to understand the need for Issue 7. Money generated from the levy allows TPS to maintain existing funding levels, and most importantly, continue providing beneficial academic programming to our students. You can help us continue building a positive momentum throughout Toledo Public Schools.
You can help our nearly 29,000 students excel in the classroom and obtain a quality education from caring and supportive teachers and administrators. You can show your support of Toledo Public Schools on Tuesday, March 4 by voting for Issue 7. Remember, Issue 7 is not a new tax; it is a renewal of our current operating levy.
Voting for Issue 7 is a vote of confidence for Toledo Public Schools and will allow us to continue focusing on the needs of our students.
John Foley is superintendent of Toledo Public Schools.