Friday, October 1, 2004

Cincinnati schools open campaign for tax renewal

By Maggie Downs
Enquirer staff writer

Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Alton Frailey (left) and Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken at a Thursday news conference on behalf of the November tax proposal for CPS.
BOND HILL - Superintendent Alton Frailey kicked off a campaign Thursday to renew a tax levy for Cincinnati Public Schools.

The "Renew 32" campaign is an effort to renew Issue 32, a $65 million, five-year operating levy first passed in 1980 and renewed four times.

Frailey noted advances that CPS students made in the past year: improvements on all 18 state report card indicators, with gains in math and reading; an increase from 20 to 49 schools in the top three state report card categories.

"We at CPS use a very simple approach centered on one goal - improving students' academic performance. That's our mission," he said. "And we have to keep investing in the things that are important to us."

The Renew 32 campaign is endorsed by many, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Hamilton County Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters and Mayor Charlie Luken, who spoke at the kickoff.

Luken said a great moment in Cincinnati history was the passage of the 2003 capital bond issue, a $1 billion school construction project. Currently 12 schools are under construction, four are slated to begin construction soon and 17 more are approved for design.

"We're not going back, we're moving forward," he said.

Critics of the campaign are withholding support until the district shows more improvement in student achievement.

. An independent commission will be auditing CPS finances to help the 38,800-student school district find ways to operate more efficiently and stay within budget while improving academic achievement.

School officials acknowledged this month overspending the district's $436.4 million, 2003-04 budget by almost $22 million.

Parent Carolyn Turner of College Hill said renewing Issue 32 is important for her family as well as her community.

"I have a child in a public school, so obviously I have a personal stake in seeing my child achieve academically and go on to college," Turner said. "But also the school system as a whole is important to the health of a city, to attract more people, to build stronger businesses."


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