The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Voters Approve Facilities Plan

Issue 13 will fund renovation of pre-K and K-8 buildings
City of Shaker Heights
After renovations, Ludlow Elementary School will house an expanded pre-K program which is also funded by Issue 13. The school was closed in 1987, but the district maintained ownership. Until recently, the building was occupied by Positive Education Program, an alternative school for students challenged by complex developmental trauma, mental health issues and autism, according to the organization’s website.

Despite organized opposition and prolonged online debate, city residents voted yesterday to begin renovating district elementary schools.

Issue 13 passed with 59 percent of the 13,351 votes cast.

According to the ballot language, Issue 13 comprises a 6.45-mill bond issue to raise $121,190,000 for construction and improvement of facilities; a 0.5-mill, state-mandated permanent improvement levy for maintenance of buildings; and a 3-mill operating levy to help pay for an expanded pre-K program.

Because they are contributing money to the project, the state required the 0.5-mill permanent improvement levy to be on the ballot alongside the bond issue. The levy proceeds will be used to maintain the newly renovated buildings.

The district website states that “The first segment includes renovating Ludlow to accommodate an expanded PreK program; renovating and expanding Woodbury as a Middle Years Building (Grades 6-8); renovating Boulevard, Lomond, Mercer and Onaway and converting them to include Grade 5; building an addition to Fernway to accommodate Grade 5.” The fate of the high school will be determined by a later vote. 

The full millage will not be collected all at once. In 2024, taxes will increase by $122 per $100,000 of property value — 3-mills for pre-K and 0.5-mills for the permanent improvement levy. There will be no increase in 2025, because although the first 1.5 of the 6.45 mill bond will begin, the existing 1.5-mill bond passed in 2004 ends. After that, the remaining 4.95 mills will take effect gradually, resulting in a $60 increase per $100,000 value in 2026, no increase in 2027 and a $57 increase in 2028. A final $57 increase will take effect in 2030, at which time the full millage will be in effect.

In a rare instance of organized dissent to a school ballot measure in Shaker Heights, opponents formed the Committee for Shaker’s Future in an effort to defeat the issue. The Facebook group Informed Shaker, where some posts about the facilities plan drew more than 50 comments, at times contentious, suspended discourse Oct. 21 and resumed it today.

Critics argued that the district should segment the plan into separate issues and talk more with the community in order to include more perspectives. They also expressed concern that the tax increase would make buying a home in the city prohibitive.

The issue was endorsed by the Editorial Board and the Shaker Heights Democratic Club. Three of the four Board of Education candidates also endorsed the issue, the exception being Laura Whay Klein.

In an email, the Committee for Shaker Schools thanked voters for passing the measure. They stated, “This campaign once again reminded us that the Shaker Heights community is passionate about doing what is right by our students, even when we don’t all agree on the best way to get there.”

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