The Toledo Blade, Oct. 29
Would you pay higher taxes to make sure your kids’ schools were safe from rampaging gunmen? How about your neighbors’ kids’ schools?
Two northwest Ohio districts are asking taxpayers to cough up more for security with special, dedicated levies on Nov. 6.
Springfield Local Schools is asking voters to approve a new 0.9-mill levy to pay for better school security, including an update of the district’s communications system, more than 100 new classroom doors, and possibly some building-entrance changes that would funnel visitors through the school office before they could have access to the rest of the school.
In Sylvania, voters also will face a 0.9-mill security levy. Officials there plan to spend the levy revenue on similar upgrades, including internal and external digital cameras at every school, an additional school resource officer at each of the three junior high schools, eight new mental health counselors, an upgraded electronic visitation/?check-in process, and an upgraded phone system to make communication with police easier in an emergency.
And these aren’t the only two districts looking for new, dedicated sources of funding for security measures in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting earlier this year. Since the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people, state education officials in at least 10 states have crafted plans to increase funding for the sometimes expensive school renovations, equipment, and staff to make the buildings safer. …
It also is important to consider how turning to security levies exacerbates the already glaring income gap among Ohio’s schools. Maybe suburban districts can all approve these levies easily and use the money to make their schools safer, but what about the large, urban districts with dense poverty or the tiny, rural districts with much smaller tax bases? How do they afford safe schools? …
The Plain Dealer, Oct. 26
Important federal legislation to let hometown news organizations band together to negotiate with the massive online platforms now distributing their news content for free needs a jolt of action and support this fall. Without it, without a way to challenge the way Google and Facebook divert digital news advertising dollars into their own coffers for stories others research and write, local journalism may disappear.
Yet since the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act was introduced in March by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, it’s been languishing in the House Judiciary Committee, attracting only one other sponsor — Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, a California Democrat. Ohioans need to let their representatives know that preserving their hometown news is important to them. This bill would help do that.
It would lift antitrust restrictions for four years to let smaller news organizations that include 1,000 local and state newspapers and news websites collectively negotiate price and other terms with “dominant online platforms,” defined as having at least 1 billion active monthly users. Facebook and Google aren’t named but they are clearly targets of the legislation.
This wise and timely bill deserves broad support. If you agree, call or write your members of Congress now.