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Clintonville plays host to forum on school issues

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Columbus City Schools' Issues 50 and 51 will be the focus of a voter forum Oct. 14 in Clintonville.

Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus and the Council for Public Deliberation, the Monday-evening issues forum will take place at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 3909 N. High St.

Issues 50 and 51 will be on the ballot Nov. 5.

Issue 50 is a 9.01-mill combined bond issue and operating levy, with 1.01 mills for a bond issue to pay the local portion of a state-district construction program for new and renovated school buildings, and 8 mills for operating revenue.

Passage of the issue would raise $76.5 million a year for the district and cost homeowners $315 annually per $100,000 in home value.

The district pledges the operating funds for an eight-part plan to: increase accountability, improve classroom technology, add more early-childhood education, recruit and retain high-quality teachers and principals, increase the number of high-performing schools, allow the district to partner with the city in establishing charter schools, and improve academic and business practices.

Issue 51 would create an independent auditor. The district's auditor position currently is an internal one.

The Oct. 14 forum will get underway at 7 p.m. and conclude with a small reception about 8:30 p.m., said Kalitha Williams, a volunteer with the local League of Women Voters.

Michael Thompson of WOSU's For the Record will serve as moderator. Samuel Gresham Jr., former president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League, also is scheduled to be a member of the panel.

Jonathan C. Beard, president and chief executive officer of the Columbus Compact Corp., is scheduled to be on hand representing a newly formed group opposing the levy, calling itself "No Cheaters, No Charters Columbus," Williams said.

As of late last week, no representative from the pro-levy committee Reimagine Columbus had been designated to appear at the Oct. 14 forum, she said.

"We're hoping to have a moderated discussion," Williams said. "We're really hopeful we'll have audience members who want to participate in the discussion as well."

League officials hope the forum will help "present the key elements of Columbus Schools levy ballot Issues 50 and 51," Williams said.

"Of course, the League of Women Voters has a longterm commitment to creating programming to ensure that the electorate is informed of policy and ballot issues," she added.

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