TPS seeking levy funding for salaries, transportation, technologyWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
If voters pass the Toledo Public Schools (TPS) levy on the Nov. 4 ballot, the estimated $66.5 million raised over five years would be the first new money for the district since 2001.
The five-year, 5.8-mill levy — 4.3 mills for operations and 1.5 mills for improvements — breaks down to $121.80 a year, or about $10 per month, for the owner of a $60,000 home.
Superintendent Romules Durant, a Waite High School graduate, listed a number of areas the funds will assist, but said he prioritized the safety of students.
Funds raised by the levy would restore bus transportation for students from kindergarten to 12th grade, which was eliminated in 2010. High school students currently have no transportation and some elementary students walk up to two miles to get to school. The need for change was made apparent after the harsh weather conditions last year, Durant said.
“Last winter was an eye-opening experience,” he said. “We want to make sure safety is our priority. … We heard it from the community and from parents who made decisions to go elsewhere because of that.”
Maintenance and repairs to the existing TPS facilities and purchasing school computers will also be funded by the levy.
“Our buildings look new; the reality is that iPhones weren’t even invented when we started,” he said. “[Technology] has drastically changed. We need to make sure that these kids, who we consider the digital natives, are having the practice and experience with the most updated technology.”
Durant said that because some testing is now online, the schools need the proper bandwidth to accommodate it.
The levy will also help increase the salaries of TPS teachers, currently among the lowest-paid in the region. Durant said without quality teachers, programs are not being driven the way they should be. He said that he wants to use levy funds to improve conditions in regards to “recruitment and retention” of staff members.
Durant said he will continue implementation of the district’s Transformation Plan, which aims to “increase community partnerships, broaden educational opportunities for students and establish neighborhood schools” in order to increase state performance ratings. The plan has already seen success, Durant said.
“If you want collective impact, you have to have collective work,” he said. “When people say Toledo is a compassionate city, I find that to be in true reality.”
If the levy passes, TPS will not be on the ballot again until 2018 when the current tax levies are due to be renewed. Durant said he will consider cost-cutting even if the levy is passed.
“We’re being judicious with our taxpayers’ dollars so we’re going to make sure that we’re doing our best in regards to spending it appropriately and efficiently,” he said.
Other school levies
Voters in four other local districts will also find levies on their ballots.
- Washington Local Schools will ask for a new, continuous 4.9-mill levy for current operating expenses.
- Oregon City Schools is asking for an emergency five-year, 5.9-mill levy.
- Springfield Local Schools is seeking two levies: one a five-year, 1.35-mill renewal levy for permanent improvements and the other a new, continuous 7.9-mill levy for current expenses.
- Maumee City Schools will ask voters to approve a new, continuous 3.9-mill levy.