One Lakewood Progress: Vote for Schools. Vote FOR Issue 28

I always support school levies.

On the March 17, 2020, primary ballot, Lakewood voters will decide whether or not to pass Issue 28, a 3.9 mill operating and 1 mill improvement levy to fund Lakewood City Schools. It has been nearly 7 years since a school levy was last placed on the ballot. The 2013 levy - a $3.9 mill operating levy - was the lowest millage request made since the 1970’s. 

Monies collected by this levy would be used to provide mental health services for elementary students, add STEM offerings to prepare students for the economy of the future, retain and recruit high quality teachers, expand career and technical education opportunities for middle and high school students, update and maintain technology and learning materials, maintain buildings, vehicles and athletic fields, and expand early childhood education programs.

Funds generated from school tax levies compose a significant part of financing for Ohio schools, which are financed with a combination of federal, state and local funds. Ohio school districts receive funding from the Ohio Department of Education’s general revenue funds and Ohio Lottery profits, which can be inconsistent. At the local level, school districts receive funding from locally levied property taxes. 

One of the reasons I support levies is because I worked in education, implementing reform policy both inside and outside of school buildings and classrooms, helping under-served students access better educational opportunities through promoting one on one supplemental tutoring, securing funding to provide wrap-around services that include preschool and after-school care, and promoting extended early childhood education.

I understand the data and statistics that place American children behind other nations in science, technology, engineering and math. Reduced and inconsistent State funding, coupled with the rising costs of educational advancement make this school levy a must if Lakewood is to keep pace with educational advancements and the needs demonstrated by the families of this community. 

School levies are a perennial part of life for school districts. Funding from Issue 28 will not only improve the educational lives of its students, but ensure those students are equipped to be successful, both in the classroom and in the buildings where they are expected to learn everyday. A vote for Issue 28 on March 17th is not a vote for a levy, but a vote for schools, which raises our community profile, keeps property values stable, provides critical early childhood programs, expands educational opportunities through STEM, supports our students’ mental health, maintains our buildings and high quality teachers for the benefit of our kids. 

The unit of value for expressing the rate of property taxes in Ohio is the “mill.” A mill is defined as one-tenth of a percent or one-tenth of a cent (0.1 cents) in cash terms. Millage is the factor applied to the assessed value of property to produce tax revenue. 4.9 mills of the District’s current debt service millage will be reduced, hence a Lakewood taxpayer would not see an increase in their tax rate, and would only see a small increase in taxes - less than $2 per month per $100,000 in home value - for this levy.

Millage approved by voters are subject to the property tax reduction factor, House Bill (HB) 920. HB 920 reduces the taxes charged by a voted levy to offset increases in the value of real property. This means the amount of voted millage taxes collected on property will not exceed the amount collected at the property’s value in the first year the taxes were collected. Although property values may increase while the levy is in effect, the amount of taxes collected on those properties do not increase. Due to HB 920, the increase of property values seen in Lakewood over the past few years do not translate into an increase in revenues collected on the 2013 levy, making the need to place another levy on the ballot essential to maintaining the quality and operation of our schools.

School levies are necessary for supporting strong communities. Voting for this school levy is not only critical, but it's responsible, and we owe it to our kids to fight for the success of their futures. 

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 4:27 PM, 02.18.2020