When Cincinnati voters sacked Mayor Cranley’s Park district levy last November, local poobahs got spooked. Should they ask for tax increases in the fall of 2016, even though the presidential election should draw more seemingly tax-friendly Democrats to the polls? Example: SORTA, the local transit authority, seems to be backing off a much-needed county transit tax levy.

But most taxpayers are smart enough to distinguish a worthy investment from a pyramid scheme. One local levy on the November ballot that has earned my vote comes from the Cincinnati Public Schools. CPS is asking voters to raise real estate taxes to strengthen Cincinnati’s public K-12 schools, and also provide $15 million annually to fulfill the “Preschool Promise.” PSP is a grass roots movement of civic, religious and business leaders to assure quality preschool education for our city’s 9,200 3- and 4-year-old kids. CPS is betting that voters will invest in our kids’ future. They are worth the bet.

Cincinnati is on a roll. Those much-coveted college-educated millenials want the type of charming, walkable neighborhoods that Cincinnati has in spades. Downtown and OTR are booming, with new residents, jobs and housing. The ripple of redevelopment is spreading west, north and east. The City’s population is actually up, after decades of decline.

But no city can prosper without great schools. And Cincinnati’s scrappy public school system is on a roll of its own. After two decades of shrinking attendance provoked by flight to the ‘burbs and the state’s misguided funding of poor performing but heavily marketed charter schools, CPS’s student population is growing. Projected enrollment is more than 35,000 in August. That’s up more than 9 percent in just the last two years.

CPS long has been known for several remarkable magnet schools. But with enrollment growing and state funding stagnant, CPS needs more local tax funds to invest in neighborhood schools and expose all students to the technology needed to compete in the 21st century’s gig economy. Strengthening neighborhood schools will draw and keep more residents, and build on our town’s impressive momentum.

But what makes this levy unique is CPS’s partnership with the PSP. PSP has focused on the role that quality preschool education can play in helping kids break free from the pull of poverty. Cincinnati has about 9,200 3- and 4-year-olds. About 50 percent of them live at or below the federal poverty level of $16,000 for a single mom with one child. Data shows that high-quality preschool programs can help assure kids will be reading at grade level by third grade.

CPS already provides quality preschool education in 80 classrooms. But those classrooms can accommodate only about 1,200 kids. Eighty percent of CPS preschoolers are low income. Most are African American. But because the state does not help pay for preschool classrooms, CPS has been unable to expand its preschool offerings to serve the city’s 8,000 remaining 3- to 4-year-olds.

Parents without a preschool slot for their kids often rely on private day care programs during their workday. But day care is not quality preschool education. CPS preschool teachers are trained to prepare kids to prosper in elementary school, and to identify and find help for kids with disabilities or special needs.

A portion of the CPS levy will be used to expand CPS’s preschool classrooms to more neighborhood schools. Funds also will go to existing private programs that commit to provide quality preschool education. An annual evaluation of instructors and private programs will be critical in making sure kids get what they need and that taxpayers get what they pay for.

The CPS levy is not chump change. At 7.93 mills, it will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $277/year. A city payroll tax or a county sales tax would be more equitable, but both met with insurmountable political resistance. Fortunately, CPS and PSP found common ground that can strengthen our neighborhood schools, while making quality preschool available to thousands more kids in need.

A yes vote in November is a bet worth making on our kids’ and our city’s future.