Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Clergy group endorses school levy

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Religious leaders spelled out their support for Cincinnati Public School's 6-mill levy Monday, giving an endorsement that many churches did not offer in previous levy campaigns.

        Pastors from the Greater Cincinnati Community Faith Alliance, which includes the Baptist Ministers Conference, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and the Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition, announced their support to district officials at Rockdale Elementary in Avondale.

        “So many times we were against the levy,” said the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr. “Now we are here to say this is a good thing.”

        That's a switch for the Baptist Ministers Conference, which has argued adamantly against Cincinnati school levies in the past, even working in 1993 to defeat a 4.85-mill bond issue.

        Inequity in neighborhood schools and a lack of African-American teachers were issues that concerned the churches, said the Rev. Aaron Greenlea, conference president.

        “We felt that magnet schools were being funded more than neighborhood schools,” the Rev. Mr. Greenlea said. “Now we are convinced that the (school district) leadership wants to work with us.”

        The levy, which will be on the Nov. 7 ballot, would raise $35.8 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $184 a year in new taxes. One mill, or $5.97 million will be used for increased spending in neighborhood schools.

        The rest of the money will be earmarked for keeping pace with an estimated inflation rate of 3.3 percent, as well as textbook and staffing costs; for class-size reduction in grades K-3 and building maintenance.

        Bishop Nathaniel Linsey said the churches are coming together to “break the silence from our pulpits about the education of our children.”

        Bishop Linsey cited improvements under Superintendent Steven Adamowski — student-based budgeting, improvements in test scores, more choice for parents — as reasons why the schools deserve church support.


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