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Lakewood City School District voters overwhelmingly pass new-money levy

Residents in the presidential primary election approved Lakewood City Schools’ Issue 28, with 76 percent of the voters casting ballots in favor.

Vote totals for the 3.9-mill levy and 1-mill permanent improvement levy were 7,041 for vs. 2,144 against, according to final, unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

The new tax will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $144.75 a month.

Issue 28 was a unique new-money levy utilizing the expiration of current district debt. Residents were previously paying $143 a month on a $100,000 home, with the new levy marking a $1.75 monthly increase.

“I’m flattered, grateful and humbled by this community’s commitment to education,” Superintendent Michael J. Barnes said. “I think they demonstrated that by casting their ballots. They believe in what we’re trying to do for children.

“I’d like to offer a sincere thanks to our campaign chair and the many volunteers that gave time, energy and effort helping our community understand why Issue 28 was important for the Lakewood Schools and its future.”

Barnes said the coronavirus pandemic, combined with the delayed primary and mail-only voting, created uncertainty going into the ballot.

“We were always cautiously optimistic, but you just never know,” Barnes said. “We know many of our families, our community members are experiencing the setbacks that the pandemic has had on the economy. We were never thinking that this was a done deal.

“Considering what many families are facing during these economic times -- and they’re still willing to lift up their ballots in support of the Lakewood City Schools -- it’s just a testament to just how awesome this community is.”

Instead of cutting programs -- which the superintendent said would have happened if Issue 28 had failed -- the new levy funds will be used to expand preschool and academic programming, retain and recruit professional staff, monitor district facilities and bolster student mental health services.

Barnes noted that the passage of Issue 28 means the district hopes to not return to the ballot for at least three or four years, if not longer.

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