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For the second time in four years, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District voted Tuesday night to put a property tax increase before the city’s voters.

“Over the past few years, Cleveland voters have stood with our students and passed the levies proposed by the board,” said Board President Sara Elaqad. “We still need additional revenue to provide Cleveland’s children with the education they need and deserve.”

The school district has indicated for months that it wants to implement a new tax to close a budget deficit. If passed, the 10-year, 8.6 per thousand school levy would raise property taxes by $301 per $100,000 of assessed property value annually. As part of the same vote, the district will request to issue $295 million in bonds to maintain school buildings. All eight board members voted to implement the levy at Tuesday’s meeting. Board member Nigamanth Sridhar was absent.

The district needs the new cash flow to offset a budget deficit caused in part by the expiration of federal aid. That shortfall has already prompted CEO Warren Morgan to eliminate funding for some after-school programs and cut more than 12.6% of central office positions. So far, the district has been able to balance its finances, but faces a $110 million deficit in 2027.

Mayor Justin Bibb, who leads the district, has said he will lead the campaign, which includes going door-to-door. So far, no public opposition has formed, but during the last school levy campaign in 2020, a group funded by people whose identities were not disclosed led a campaign against the levy. That levy, as well as the previous two, passed by double-digit margins.

In addition to moving the levy, the board voted to rename the East Professional Center in honor of former school board president and prominent politician Arnold Pinkney. Pinkney helped manage Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign and the campaigns for Congressman Louis Stokes and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Pinkney served on the school board from 1967 to 1978 and was its president for the last seven years.

“(Pinkney) will always be remembered for his passion and commitment to our greatest asset: our children,” Morgan said.

The district will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the name change on a date yet to be determined.

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