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October 26, 2020

Help us fill the gaps in early education

Dear friends,

One thing that sets United Way of Greater Cincinnati apart is our focus on systemic change. We financially support agencies that do great work, we convene partners and resources, we advocate for policies and programming, we educate people about available resources – we work for systemic change and greater results than any one agency can achieve on its own.

As our community faces an upcoming vote on the Preschool Promise Levy, it is a great time to take a look at the work United Way of Greater Cincinnati has done in early childhood education over the past two decades. Much of that work started by educating the community about the importance of early childhood brain development and the need for public investment in early care and education. 

Later, as a leader and key partner in a broad coalition of early childhood advocates, United Way created its Success By 6 program and helped spur several systems improvements that help thousands of families each year. Key examples:

  • Implementing State Quality Rating Systems in both Ohio and Kentucky empowering parents to make choices about sending their children to quality child care. 
  • Changing standards for state funding for home visitation programs to more closely align with our local best-in-practice Every Child Succeeds.
  • Working with individual child cares to implement common assessments of student progress to guide teaching practices.
  • Leading the charge for the Cincinnati Preschool Promise, which provides public funding for Cincinnati families to make quality preschool more affordable and accessible.

That last one is important right now. Cincinnati Preschool Promise is funded by a levy on November’s ballot, a renewal of an emergency Cincinnati Public Schools’ operating levy for 7.34 mills ($48 million) for a period of five years.

Part of the levy – which does not raise taxes -- will be used to maintain $15 million in annual funding for expanding affordable access to high-quality preschool and to directly serve approximately 5,000 3 and 4 year olds annually with tuition assistance and improved quality.

Among other things, the levy (Issue 17) provides critical funds for essential technology for all students; helps prepare teachers for better online instruction and communication with families and children; and connects students of all ages with health, mental health, nutrition and other vital services.

If it does not pass, Cincinnati Public Schools must reduce academic and career-training programs, cut hundreds of teachers, increase class sizes and significantly scale back instructional technology and learning materials.

Consider, since the original levy passed in 2016:

  • 131 area preschools increased their quality rating.
  • 229 Cincinnati Preschool Promise community providers are located throughout the Cincinnati area, with 98 in quality gap neighborhoods.
  • 7,000 local 3 and 4 year olds received tuition assistance or attended higher quality preschools.
  • CPS kindergartners attending quality preschools are consistently more ready to learn and on track to succeed.
  • 99.6% of CPS third graders met Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee in 2019-20.

That, my friends, is systemic change. Please support Issue 17 to maintain that progress.

Sincerely,

Moira Weir
President/CEO

Issue 17 

 Issue 17 - November 3, 2020 Levy Fact Sheet

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) has a levy on this November’s ballot.  It is a renewal of an emergency operating levy for 7.34 mills/$48,000,000 for a period of five years.

Voter approval of this issue will not increase taxes.  It will renew funding for two education priorities:

  • Learning programs for 35,000+ CPS K-12 students
    • Continues college, vocational, and career-readiness programs
    • Expands quality neighborhood K-12 school options
    • Increases access to learning technology for all students
  • High-quality preschool for Cincinnati’s 3- & 4-year-old children
    • Maintains $15 million in annual funding for expanding affordable access to high-quality preschool through CPS and Cincinnati Preschool Promise (CPP) community-based providers.
    • Directly serves approximately 5,000[1] 3- and 4-year olds annually with tuition assistance and improved quality.

Since the original levy was passed in 2016 (with 62% of the vote):

  • 131 area preschools have increased their quality rating.
  • 229 CPP community providers are located throughout the Cincinnati area with 98 in quality gap neighborhoods.
  • 7,000[2] local 3- and 4-year-olds have been impacted through tuition assistance or higher quality preschools.
  • CPS kindergartners who attend quality preschool are consistently more ready to learn and on track to succeed.
  • More families are choosing CPS (Overall enrollment increase of 5% since 2016 and 20% since 2012).
  • More CPS students are taking AP courses at all of CPS’ traditional high schools.
  • 99.6% of CPS third graders met Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee in 2019-20.
  • Ninth-grade Algebra I scores increased 26 percentage points (from 2015-16 to 2018-19).
  • 526 CPS Juniors participated in Job Shadowing with 15 Area Companies in 2018-19.
  • CPS graduation rates have increased (6.5 percent gain from 2015-16 to 2019-20).
  • CPS Class of 2018 earned nearly $80 million in college aid and scholarships ($20 million increase from 2017).

The November levy renews funding – no tax increase – to continue the progress made on expanding access to high-quality, affordable preschool; stronger K-12 neighborhood schools; CPS graduation rates; and college and career readiness for students.  It provides critical funds for essential technology for all students, for school and home use; helps prepare teachers for better online instruction and communication with families and children; and connects students of all ages with health, mental health, nutrition and other vital services.

If this renewal levy does not pass, millions in dedicated preschool funding for thousands of 3- and 4-year-olds will be lost. CPS will be forced to reduce many academic and career-training programs, cut hundreds of teachers, increase class sizes, and significantly scale back instructional technology and learning materials.

Early voting begins October 6, 2020.

Issue 7 Information: forcincinnatikids.com  

Voting Information: votehamiltoncountyohio.gov/

Cincinnati Public Schools: www.cps-k12.org/

Cincinnati Preschool Promise: www.cincy-promise.org


[1] 2019-20 school year combined total seats reserved for preschool-aged children with Tuition Assistance and/or Quality Improvement.

[2] Combined, cumulative total (2017-18 through 2019-20) CPS and CPP total seats reserved for preschool-aged children with Tuition Assistance and/or Quality Improvement.

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, education, Impact