Without state help, Cleveland needs 15-mill levy for school reform

Governor Kasich signed House Bill 525, a plan to reform Cleveland schools, with a great deal of fanfare earlier this month.

Today we learned that implementing the plan that the Governor so aggressively embraced will require passage of a new 15-mill levy in November.

We aren’t surprised. When we first looked at the Cleveland Plan, there was a lot to like, such as universal pre-school and early childhood academies. But given the $50 million it lost in the current state budget, those reforms would require resources the district doesn’t have. Here are the prescient words of our Education Policy Fellow, Steve Dyer in our report “Caution on the Cleveland Plan“:

Just to plug Cleveland’s projected budget deficit would cost more than 12 mills (or about $400/$100,000 home), and that doesn’t include any additional investments by the district as envisioned in this plan. Without additional state support, it is difficult to see how these innovations can be realized. 

But the state provided no additional support, despite the importance the Governor has placed on the success of the Cleveland Plan. Why? Dyer asks this question again today on his blog, pointing out that the $77 million the District needs is only a small portion of what the state has stashed away for a rainy day.

The Governor stood at his press event surrounded by Cleveland school kids. Will he still be there for them if the levy fails?