Supporters of Cleveland Schools levy rally voters ahead of November election

CLEVELAND - Supporters of the levy for Cleveland Public Schools are warning against laying off teachers, and a potential $50 million deficit.

Over the weekend in an east side church basement, mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers and concerned citizens met up for a voter registration drive.

This group is part a coalition of local churches, synagogues and mosques in Cleveland trying to get voters to pass the Cleveland Municipal School District's levy on the November ballot.

"Our region can't succeed unless we have excellent schools," said organizer Ari Lipman. "That's what's going to build the workforce, that's what's going to attract people to Cleveland."

Arthur Lawson, a former Cleveland schools administrator and Ronnie Dunn, a Cleveland State University professor, are veterans of the classroom and scared about what will happen if the levy doesn't pass.

"If this levy does not pass, we will lose hundreds of thousands of young people as far as motivation is concerned," said Lawson.  

"I'm afraid that we will see more children, more youth dropping out of school, not completing high school and what alternatives are left for them," said Dunn.

Both men walked the streets, like many have been doing for weeks, encouraging people to vote, signing some up to register if they haven't and spreading their message that the district's first school tax levy in 16 years is vital despite the obvious obstacle of cost.

The 15 mill levy will cost the homeowner of a $50,000 home $225 more a year.

But Professor Dunn, who has PhD in Urban Studies, put his perspective on it. 

"The research clearly shows there's a strong correlation between education and incarceration, particularly high school graduation, particularly minorities and African Americans," said Dunn.

Another hurdle, because there are so many things on the ballot this year, is that the school levy, which is Issue 107, is on page nine.

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