United Way endorses Issue 5Written by Bill Kitson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier this week, United Way of Greater Toledo announced its endorsement of Issue 5 — the proposed Toledo Public Schools (TPS) levy. Because United Way rarely takes a stance on political matters and because of the controversial nature of this particular issue, this came as a surprise to some, so I would like to share our reasons.
We have chosen to endorse the levy because we can’t afford not to. Through our collaborations with TPS, we are making strides both in the district’s schools and with TPS students. Additionally, we have invested approximately $1.9 million in education-related programs, many of which directly affect TPS students. We are seeing a new openness from TPS for partnerships and this is giving us an unprecedented opportunity to sit down with TPS leadership to identify new ways United Way and others can leverage resources to help. These are not advances we can allow to disappear.
Last year, TPS had to make $39 million in cuts and lost 1,400 students. Faced with a similar deficit next year, losing — at minimum — another 1,400 kids is a very real danger. The reality is many of those kids are not finding alternative education options; they are simply dropping out, only to end up on the streets or in the prison system. This is not sustainable for a community like Toledo, where a stable school system is absolutely critical to economic development.
United Way strongly believes choosing to endorse this levy now will far outweigh what we will have to pay later when we are trying to help an even further devastated school system and local economy recover. TPS leadership is showing incredible progress in reaching out to the community for help in creating an authentic reform plan, and we look forward to continuing to work alongside them in these efforts.
We urge you to join us in supporting the levy. I realize the type of emotions and opinions this topic can stir up, so I would be happy to further discuss our reasons for endorsement with anyone. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time at (419) 248-2424.
Bill Kitson is president and CEO of United Way of Greater Toledo.