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United Way endorses the TPS levy

TOLEDO, Ohio – Tonight, United Way of Greater Toledo announced its endorsement of Issue 5—the proposed Toledo Public Schools (TPS) levy.

According to United Way officials, the organization has chosen to endorse Issue 5 because its partnership with Toledo Public Schools is yielding success and progress within the district’s schools and, more importantly, in the lives of Toledo students. Officials stated supporting this levy is in the best interest of kids, the economic viability of our community, and United Way.

It is rare for United Way to take an established stance on political issues and acknowledges this one in particular is controversial.

“We realize this issue causes conflicting opinions and emotions across our community,” said Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo president & CEO, “but the bottom line is this is about kids. Period. Our children are too important for us to stand on the sidelines.”

This past year, United Way of Greater Toledo invested approximately $1.9 million in programs advancing its education goals in Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties. Much of that progress has been made either directly in Toledo Public Schools or in programs supporting TPS students.

“Our endorsement is an effort to protect the progress and investments we and our partners have made in education,” said Cindy Dana, chair of United Way’s Public Policy Advisory Council (PPAC).

After a presentation from TPS Superintendent Dr. Jerome Pecko and TPS Board President Bob Vasquez, the PPAC voted to recommend endorsement of the levy to United Way’s Board of Trustees. The Board overwhelmingly approved endorsement earlier this week.

According to Pecko and Vasquez, TPS lost approximately 2,500 students this year after making $39 million in cuts. Faced with a $44 million deficit next year, losing at least another 2,500 students is a very real possibility.

“Not all of these children are finding alternative education,” Kitson continued. “We are losing a good number of these kids because they are simply dropping out.”

“Endorsing the levy now and choosing to work with TPS to create a viable plan is vastly preferable to paying more down the road as these kids enter the prison system, social service agencies, and businesses leave town as a result,” Kitson concluded.

The announcement was made as part of the organization’s Waiting for “Superman” screening and roundtable discussion. More than 350 people, including representatives from TPS, charter schools, unions, United Way funded partners, donors, volunteers, and the general public were in attendance.

To learn more about United Way’s work in education, visit