Columbus City Schools levy passes, averting financial crisis; CCS adds new board members
Columbus City Schools got good news election night, as the combined 7.7 mil general operating fund and permanent improvement levy was approved, 55% to 45%.
It will raise a total of $100 million per year. Passage protects over 200 student support positions, allows the district to expand pre-K classes at six sites, and will give the district a guaranteed $60.5 million a year to keep up with repairs and improvements on aging buildings.
The levy campaign - which had originally been scheduled for last year's ballot - was made more difficult by the release this summer of new property tax assessments, which rose by historic levels, amplifying the impact of the levy, which will cost taxpayers nearly $270 per $100-thousand dollars of assessed value on their homes..
The district also faced very vocal opposition, most notably from the Columbus NAACP's leader Nana Watson, and the group Equity Now, representing 75 black leaders in Columbus, led by Urban League President and former Columbus City Schools board president Stephanie Hightower. Critics cited the district's lack of transparency. In comments last night, CCS Superintendent Angela Chapman says the campaign shows to he district needs to work more closely with its constituents.
"That really speaks to the ork that wee need to do *with* our community, right? There are decisions that need to be made with our community, we need to make sure that our community feels as if they are well-informed about what's going on in the district; what's working, what's not working, and what are the areas of improvement."
While thanking the public for passing the levy, school board president Jennifer Adair said the district will need the continued support of the community.
"...so that we can make that radical transformation that we know we need for our children, and really improve what we are doing in this city. Without public education, we do not have democracy."
Leading up to the election district officials cautioned that even *with* passage of the 7.7 mill levy the district will lose over 300 positions that will end when the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief or ESSER funds ends in 2024.
While the race for Columbus City School board drew far less attention, there will be some changes around the board table. Board members Tina Pierce and Jennifer Adair won relection. They will be joined by two newcomers, labour lawyer Sarah Ingles, and 22-year old Brandon Simmons, a recent CAHS graduate, elected to positions vacated by former board members Carole Beckerle and Eric Brown