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Volunteers spread the word on school levy

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LORAIN — Grilled hot dogs and cookies were the rewards Saturday for about 200 volunteers who gathered at Charleston Administration Building after spending the morning talking to likely voters about the need for a 4.9-mill Lorain Schools operating levy.

The tax is the first new money sought by the school district since 1992. The issue will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot as Issue 38.

Levy campaign manager Devon Ludwig said the majority of the canvassers were teachers and received pledges of support while walking neighborhoods all over the city.

“We’re getting a lot of positive reactions. A lot of teachers came back and said people were telling them they’d support the schools,” she said.

School district Treasurer Dale Weber previously said that the levy, if passed, would cost an extra $12.51 per month, or $150.12 per year, for the owner of a $100,000 house.

The levy aims to help the school district generate $3.5 million a year over the next five years and avoid a $2 million shortfall by 2010.

If left unchecked, that deficit could grow to $17 million by 2012, Weber has estimated.

School board member Raul Ramos said most of the potential voters he’s talked to about the levy understand what’s at stake and don’t want to see the schools fail.

Ccity Council took a bold step in support of the school levy at the beginning of September by abandoning a plan to put an income tax credit reduction on the ballot so that the school levy would have a better chance of passing.

Mayor Tony Krasienko said that if the schools fail for lack of funding, it would be nearly impossible to attract families, investors and jobs to Lorain.

Campaign volunteer Fanecia Jackson also runs a nonprofit called Community on a Mission, which helps counsel residents on achieving education and career success.

She said that if the levy is unsuccessful, property values will fall and more businesses will leave Lorain, which is a future the city can’t afford.

Jackson is also the mother of    9-year-old Jasmine Bortner, who attends Frank Jacinto Elementary School.

She said she wants to see the levy pass so that Jasmine has a better learning environment to prepare her for college.

“I have a child who has all the brains in the world, but she needs a stable school where she can learn with nothing holding her back.” Jackson said. “She’s a dreamer with so much hope.”

Levy campaign organizers are looking for more volunteers to help with future events, including a 5 p.m. rally Oct. 14 at General Johnny Wilson Middle School.

To volunteer, call (440) 244-8896 or stop by campaign headquarters at 615 Broadway in Lorain.

Contact Jason Hawk at 329-7148 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.



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