Publisher’s Note: CCS Levy

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

Folks are mad about the upcoming Columbus City Schools levy, and rightfully so. Columbus residents are being asked to pay more property taxes to benefit CCS. People on fixed incomes are trying to determine where the funds will come from to pay additional taxes. Landlords will pass the increase on to tenants already paying high rental rates. The ask by the elected board is unreasonable, particularly when student enrollment and achievement are down.

Has the elected board worked to reduce costs before declaring it needs more funding to operate the state’s largest public school district? The district has a lot of administrators and supervisors that don’t directly work with children; perhaps to reduce costs for taxpayers, those positions should be eliminated.

Some departments don’t serve any relevant function. They should be eliminated. For example, why does CCS have a Capital Improvements department when the district isn’t erecting new buildings? Perhaps the activities in Capital Improvements should be combined with Buildings & Grounds. The Operation-Fit program spearheaded by Capital Improvements should have been initiated by Buildings & Grounds. Per the district website, “B&G’s goal is to maintain a warm, safe, and comfortable learning environment for students, staff, and the community.  B&G maintains the District’s approximately 10 million square feet of 134 school buildings and support facilities.” So why are two departments doing the same thing?

Why does the district have a purchasing director? The position was eliminated when they were in federal litigation with the former purchasing director. After the federal lawsuit was settled, the purchasing director position became open.

Why does the district have an Equity Department? Per its verbose website, “Educational equity means that each student has access to the resources, opportunities, and supports they need to develop to their full academic and social-emotional potential.” Is a department needed to provide those functions? Shouldn’t those aspects be incorporated into all district programming and services? I participated in busing for desegregation in 1979 to resolve the issue of unequal resources as determined by a federal judge. I don’t understand why 44 years later, an equity department with a staff of four is necessary. Are there inequities in the resources the Black students receive? Don’t all schools receive the same resources and financial backing from the district?

The administration and elected board need to make the math make sense before impacting Columbus residents’ wallets and budgets. They need to tighten the budget and eliminate programs and services that don’t impact the academic achievements of Black students. Perhaps they need to work or protest the continued defunding of public education by the Columbus City Council with tax abatements to private developers who don’t pay taxes.

The elected board is out of touch. They lie. They withhold information from the public. They protect and endorse foolishness. Hold them accountable for the waste and incompetence of the administration. The school board’s decisions directly impact Black families. Do not blindly trust them, the Franklin County Democrats’ sample ballot, or the pending levy committee. CCS has a record of failing Black children. They have been unable to get students to and from school on time. They have failed to maintain clean, healthy, and safe buildings. Black students and their families deserve better! Our votes and tax dollars have power.

Just my thoughts…rwb


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