Publisher’s Note: CCS BOE doesn’t have community support for tax levy

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

The Columbus City School Board has a lot of nerve. They voted 7-0 to put a tax levy on the November ballot. Really? Who is advising them? They don’t have the respect of the community. They are not viewed as creditable or truthful. They have a track record of failure.

Recent highlights include:

  • Failing to explain how a quarter of a million dollars was spent on the superintendent search.
  • Actively engaging in a secrecy pact to keep information from taxpayers during the superintendent search. Three lawyers on the board agreed to give a contract to a law firm to avoid being transparent with taxpayers.
  • Continuously voting for district purchases that exclude Black vendors. Last year Columbus City Schools spent $332 million. Only $8 million was spent with Black vendors.
  • Allowing white men to benefit from the disadvantaged procurement program in a predominately Black school district.
  • Allowing unsafe, unhealthy classrooms until it was a sticking point during the first district teacher’s strike in 50 years. (I was in the third grade at Brentnell Elementary)
  • Rehiring the demoted COO back to interim COO after his failure and incompetent track record. Those failures include allowing a director to funnel district contracts to a former employer, the inability of Operations to meet the district’s equity goal, the purchase of $1.25 million in transportation software the district didn’t use, and the lack of diversity in his hiring practices. He allows his staff, including department directors, to engage unprofessionally with the community, particularly Black vendors, without penalty.
  • Approving the unnecessary hiring of executives and the creation of questionable departments at the expense of children’s needs in the classroom.

Ironically, on the same ballot as this crazy tax levy will be three incumbents running for reelection. Hold them liable for the mess in the district. They must be held accountable for unsafe, unhealthy building conditions, transportation issues, and security concerns. They set policy. They approve of hiring. They approve spending. The present elected school board has failed the community, students, and Black vendors. 

It can’t continue to be business as usual. Solve Black problems. Get Black votes. As a Black business advocate, I cannot support this levy or any incumbent running for reelection. The education of Black children is too important. The economic empowerment of Black vendors is too important.

Just my thoughts…rwb


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