United Way of Greater Toledo Endorses TPS LevyWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
At a private screening of the documentary “Waiting for Superman” on Oct. 24, United Way of Greater Toledo CEO Bill Kitson told the audience that the United Way is endorsing the 7.8 mill Toledo Public School levy on the November ballot.
Details and a formal announcement on the United Way endorsement of Issue 5 to come.
Should voters approve the 7.8 mill levy, it would be the highest millage amount passed for Toledo Public Schools in the past four decades, it is expected to generate $22 million in tax revenue each year. Toledo Public Schools recently revised their estimated deficit for 2011/2012 from $44 million to $36 million.
Updated at 8:07 p.m. United Way of Greater Toledo released the following statement:
According to United Way officials, the organization has chosen to endorse Issue 5 because its partnership with Toledo Public Schools is yielding success and progress within the district’s schools and, more importantly, in the lives of Toledo students. Officials stated supporting this levy is in the best interest of kids, the economic viability of our community, and United Way.
It is rare for United Way to take an established stance on political issues and acknowledges this one in particular is controversial.
“We realize this issue causes conflicting opinions and emotions across our community,” said Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo president & CEO, “but the bottom line is this is about kids. Period. Our children are too important for us to stand on the sidelines.”
This past year, United Way of Greater Toledo invested approximately $1.9 million in programs advancing its education goals in Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties. Much of that progress has been made either directly in Toledo Public Schools or in programs supporting TPS students.
“Our endorsement is an effort to protect the progress and investments we and our partners have made in education,” said Cindy Dana, chair of United Way’s Public Policy Advisory Council (PPAC).
After a presentation from TPS Superintendent Dr. Jerome Pecko and TPS Board President Bob Vasquez, the PPAC voted to recommend endorsement of the levy to United Way’s Board of Trustees. The Board overwhelmingly approved endorsement earlier this week.
According to Pecko and Vasquez, TPS lost approximately 1,400 students this year after making $39 million in cuts. Faced with a $44 million deficit next year, losing at least another 1,400 students is a very real possibility.
“Not all of these children are finding alternative education,” Kitson continued. “We are losing a good number of these kids because they are simply dropping out.”
“Endorsing the levy now and choosing to work with TPS to create a viable plan is vastly preferable to paying more down the road as these kids enter the prison system, social service agencies, and businesses leave town as a result,” Kitson concluded.
The announcement was made as part of the organization’s Waiting for “Superman” screening and roundtable discussion. More than 350 people, including representatives from TPS, charter schools, unions, United Way funded partners, donors, volunteers, and the general public were in attendance.
To learn more about United Way’s work in education, visit www.unitedwaytoledo.org/education.