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CLEVELAND -- It's a pivotal time for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. School leaders say it's a make or break decision for voters this November, either pass aschool levy to save the city's district or see the system crumble.

Surrounded by Cleveland's business leaders, School's CEO Eric Gordon and Mayor Frank Jackson make a pitch for their 15-mill levy on the ballot this November at COSE Headquarters Tuesday morning, because if anyone understands profit margin, it's our small business owners.

Gordon says he's cut staff, he's cut programming and still can't make the system work the way it should.

"It's typical to see 40 students in a classroom...You see kids having limited access to music and art and physical education that makes them well-rounded students."

But even those cuts can't make up for a total loss of $168 million within the last 2 years,$55 million of that was due to cuts in state funding.

Federal funding dropped for 3 reasons: A national stimulus ended, a Cleveland census showed population loss -- which some funding is based on --and Ohio isn't hurting as bad as other states, therefore, got a smaller slice of the funding pie.

This 15-mill levy -- if passed -- would give the district an estimated $77 millionboost, still falling short of the $168 million loss.

The tax will also fall on the shoulders of Cleveland business owners, but the investment, Gordon promises, is worth it.

"It's not simply about serving 41,000 kids a year who deserve a great education. It's actually about making sure we have the community we all want," Gordon said.

Cleveland School Levy coverage

http://www.wkyc.com/news/specials/ClevelandSchoolLevy/default.aspx

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