School Levies: Akron & CMSD Passes

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CLEVELAND — Akron Public Schools officially declared Issue 61 passed shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Akron Public Schools Communications Office.

Issue 61 passed 52 percent to 41 percent.

The Cleveland Public Schools’ levy also passed. The levy passed 57 percent to 43 percent.

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The Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Akron Board of Education petitioned residents to support the multimillion dollar levies to keep their districts afloat. Currently, the CMSD is facing a deficit near $20 million.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and CMSD CEO Eric Gordon gained state support for Ohio House Bill 525, known as The Cleveland Plan in July. Governor John Kasich signed the plan in a special ceremony.

The passage of the bill was necessary for Mayor Frank Jackson and school administrators to start making some drastic changes. The law shifts some of the power in the district, ultimately giving the mayor more control, which is why it’s being called the one of the most sweeping school transformation plans in the state.

Under the law, administrators have the power to cut under-performing teachers regardless of seniority or union status. It also gives the city more authority over the curriculum and staff at charter schools, which could expand further in Cleveland.

The levy is expected to cost an additional $150 a year on a $50,000 home in Cleveland.

In Akron, the board placed the $7.9 million operating levy ballot to off-set a budget deficit. The measure known as Issue 61 will cost an average of $15 per month for Akron homeowners.

The decision to add the levy to the ballot came after the board approved $22 million in budget-balancing cuts. The cuts included approximately 200 district layoffs.

The CMSD hasn’t passed a levy since 1996. Now that Issue 61 has passed, Akron schools will not have to make more budget cuts.

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