Spotlight

Education Levy

Information for Cincinnatus Membership on the Cincinnati Public School/Pre-School Promise Tax Levy

Overview of the levy

On November 8, 2016 voters in the Cincinnati Public School District will be voting on a 5 year 7.93 mill property tax levy. The levy will provide a total of $48 million of which $15 million will be for the expansion of quality preschool through CPS and community providers. The $33 million for CPS k-12 will be used for the approximately 12% increase in enrollment, technology, intense focus on the 16 poorest performing schools and for career development. The levy will cost tax payers $277 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. A local organization, COAST, has announced its opposition to the levy.

Requested endorsement

Both the Cincinnatus Association Education Panel and the Executive Committee have recommended endorsement of the levy. At the September 13th general membership meeting presentations in support and in opposition to the levy will be made. The membership will vote on its endorsement at that meeting.

Information in support of the levy

  • Cincinnati Public Schools has had no new money for 8 years. The district needs additional funds for:
    • An 11-12% increase in enrollment with no additional funds to support the increase
    • Inflation: Salaries and other costs have increased
    • Technology: The district is lacking in the needed technology for students in today's classroom
    • Focus on 16 poorest performing schools: An intense focus is planned to substantially improve performance
  • School District is showing real progress 
    • Highest performing urban district in state
    • Highest performing high school and elementary school in state
    • Graduation rate increasing
    • Higher ACT Scores
    • Growth in Advanced Placement courses
    • Targeted low performing schools are improving significantly 
  • District has lost nearly $70 million in state funding over the past several years
  • Accountability of District finances found to be very sound by Efficiency Review Committee made up of leading business and foundation executives
  • Pre-School will be universal throughout the Cincinnati Public School District 
    • Rand Corporation study shows $4 return for every $1 spent on quality pre-school
    • Study further shows many examples in other cities of quality pre-school providing substantial improvements in school readiness for children
    • Study also shows that quality preschool results in lower rates of special education use, reduced grade repetition and higher graduation rates
    • Focus will be 3 & 4 year old children below 200% of poverty
    • Currently over 40% of students in district are not prepared for kindergarten
    • Will be universal pre-school including independent providers as well as Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS)
    • There will be a "trusted entity"(an existing large non-profit) selected to oversee funds provided to community providers other than CPS
    • All providers will be 3 star (state quality rating) rated or higher
    • Levy has broad support (Cincinnati Business Committee, Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, AMOS, many other community organizations)

Information in opposition to the levy

  • Local organization, COAST, announced opposition based on two factors: 1) Levy too high and 2) Use of the money is vague. So far no explanation of either.
  • Other possible reasons to oppose and information in response: 
    • Property taxes already too high, they need to fund schools another way. Response: Ohio Supreme Court has found current method of school financing is unconstitutional 3 times; state legislature has done nothing to change from dependence on property taxes. Also, state funds for public education have been reduced over past several years.
    • Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are not performing well. Response: CPS is the highest performing urban public school system in state and has shown consistent improvement.
    • 7.93 mills is too much, should get by with less: Response: Audit done by business community shows CPS finances are used efficiently and it will have large deficit if it doesn't get more funds.
    • Studies have shown that Head Start pre-school gains don't last. Response: In CPS with high quality preschool. Children prepared for kindergarten has risen from 43% to nearly 60% and has continued on to improvement in 3rd grade reading scores.