Pecko on Issue 5 failure: ‘The voters have spoken’Written by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a tough night for Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Nov. 2, as its second levy of the year failed to pass.
Issue 5, which would have raised roughly $21.6 million a year, was declared a failure after just more than half of the vote came in.
“The voters have spoken. This is a democracy and we must accept that,” said Jerome Pecko, superintendent of TPS.
Pecko said the failure of the levy means students may face additional program cuts through staff reductions. In addition, bus services and sports will not be reinstated, he said.
Pecko asked the public to be patient as the district moves forward with the challenging task of identifying and implementing cuts to meet the $40 million in deficit.
“Even though we will be about the business of resolving another huge budget deficit, we will continue to remain committed to several important initiatives that are cost neutral to the district and will improve those schools.”
Pecko said the district will continue to rebuild its schools, maintain a commitment to transparency and work on initiatives to improve student academic performance particularly in underperforming schools.
School board president Bob Vasquez said he refuses to be negative about the deficit district faces.
“We have a fantastic staff, fantastic administrators and board and tomorrow we’re going to be about the business of building our budget so we can provide the same kind of quality services that we have been providing,” Vasquez said. “It may be in a different way. It may look a little different, but it will be just as good and provide the quality of services that the community is used to.”
TPS received support for the levy from United Way of Greater Toledo, which pledges to continue supporting the district and its needs.
“Obviously we’re disappointed but this was not unexpected. Regardless of results, we’re still committed to continuing our work with Toledo Public Schools and we’re anxious to bring even more community partners to the table,” said Bill Kitson, president and CEO of United Way.
TPS will also receive support from Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, who endorsed the levy and stressed the district’s importance in the success of Toledo.
“It’s disappointing that the kids in the system didn’t receive the support they need tonight, but I think it says loud and clear that people want change in the district,” Bell said. “I remain committed to working with the school board and superintendent to achieve that.”
The district will begin work on balancing the budget in the coming weeks.
“The other thing that is fantastic about our schools are our children and our parents and we do not intend to let them down,” Vasquez said. “We will continue to work as hard, and harder and as hard as we have to work to bring about the quality of education this community expects.”