Cleveland school leaders rally support for November's 15 mill tax levy

CLEVELAND - Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon stood before a crowd Monday night at East Technical High School and preached what sounded like the combination to a lock he urged those in attendance to remember.

"107 - 58 - 24/7 - 15, 15, 15," said Gordon. Those numbers, Gordon feels, are the key to the successful passage of the city's first school tax levy in 16 years. Issue 107 will be decided in 58 days and he said with a 24/7 push they will be successful in their efforts to pass 15 mill levy.

The rally at East Tech featured high school singers, band members and cheerleaders highlighting student successes, while raising concern over what could be if the levy doesn't pass.

"We have to decide whether or not we want to be a city or a cemetery," asked State Sen. Nina Turner. "For me, I want to live in a city."

The levy enjoys supports from political, civic and union leaders. The opposition will lie in the homeowners, who will be forced to pay an additional $225 a year on every $50,000 of assessed value.

The good news for those behind the levy is the presidential election at the top of the ticket guarantees a large voter turnout.

"One of the things that we're going to try to do is piggy back on some of that presidential energy and make sure that we tell everybody don't just vote at the top of the ballot,"  said levy campaign manager Blaine Griffin. "It's important to make sure that we have people vote the entire ballot."

The problem that goes along with that, though, is there is so much attention paid to the top of the ticket that down-ticket items, especially bottom of the ballot levy items often get overlooked.

"Maybe," said Turner "but I think the high touch campaign we're running in the city of Cleveland we're going to make sure that no one who lives in the city of Cleveland forgets that issue 107 is on the ballot ."

Gordon agrees that has to be a large part of the push.

"That's why you got to turn (the ballot) over and go to the back, go to the bottom and find Issue 107 because that's where we are."

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