For Immediate Release: October 10, 2012
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833
KASICH BUDGET CUTS = MORE SCHOOL LEVIES
IO SAYS 83% OF OHIO COUNTIES ASKING FOR “NEW MONEY”
Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today released an analysis which finds that 62 of Ohio’s 88 counties (83%) will have school levies requesting “new money” on the November, 2012 ballot.
All told, 194 school levies will be on the fall ballot, 124 of which are requests for new money. The rest are renewals of existing levies.
The analysis found that the number of new money requests is the highest since November, 2008 when just over 40% were passed by the voters. The passage rates of new money requests have been falling in recent years, with just 22% passing in November 2010 and 28% passing in November, 2011. New money requests have become more prolific since Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies cut $1.8 billion from school districts in the state’s current two year budget.
The complete list of 194 levies on the November ballot, along with historical data on the number and success rates of levies over the past five years is available on our website. Over the next 20 days, we will be profiling 20 school districts with new money requests on the fall ballot.
IO’s analysis also found that virtually all school districts have reduced costs in the wake of state budget cuts, including salary and benefit reductions for teachers, lay-offs, building closures, and higher “pay to play” fees for sports and other extracurricular activities. In many school districts, levy failure this fall will mean draconian cuts to academic programs.
- Elida Schools in northwest Ohio (seeking a 5-yr, 0.75% income tax increase amounting to an additional $375 per year for residents with income of $50,000) lost $1.6 million in funding in the last state budget. Elida has made $3 million in cuts since 2003, including wage freezes, increased health care contributions, staff reductions, building closures, reduced bus service, and limitations on heating and air conditioning. Should the levy fail, Elida will be forced to cut another $750,000 annually, which will force the elimination of full-day kindergarten and middle-school extracurricular activities, as well as substantial cut-backs in physical education, art and music classes.
- Dublin City Schools in central Ohio (seeking both a $15.8 million bond issue and a 6.4 mill operating levy that will annually cost residents an additional $213 per $100,000 in home value) has reduced expenses by $25 million since 2007, including $7 million in just the past two years. 46 teachers and 9 administrators have been eliminated, and remaining teachers have agreed to salary and benefit give-backs. If the levy fails, Dublin students will face larger class sizes, no high school busing, AP, music and foreign language class reductions, and $400 per sport pay-to-play fees for athletes and band members.
- Woodridge Local Schools near Akron (seeking a five-year 6.83 mill operating levy which will cost an additional $209 per $100,000 home value) lost $2.2 million in state funding. The district has made cuts of $2.1 million over the past two years, including staff reductions, restricted library and textbook purchases, and the implementation of pay-to-play fees for sports. Should the levy fail this November, all-day kindergarten will be eliminated, along with 15 teachers, one (out of two) bus mechanics, and three (out of four) library tutors. In addition, the elimination of three custodians will force primary and middle schools to close at 6:00pm, meaning that basketball, volleyball and other indoor sports will not be played, and Boy and Girl Scout troops will have to find other venues for their evening meetings.
- Ashtabula City Schools (seeking a 5-year, 6.4 mill levy, which will raise $2.7 million) lost $4.5 million in state funding – and faces a $322,000 deficit. Teachers and other school employees have taken a 4-year wage freeze and increased their health care contributions. Foreign languages have been cut, teachers and staff have been eliminated, and pay-to-play athletic fees have been instituted. Should the levy fail, bus transportation, print communications, middle school sports and all week-end activities will be terminated.
Said IO President Janetta King:
“When Ohio voters go to the polls next month, the results of Gov. Kasich’s budgetary shell game will be on full display. For all his boasts about ‘balancing the state budget without raising taxes’, all he’s really done is push the need for revenue increases down to local taxpayers.
“Instead of using some of the half-billion dollars that are piling up in the state’s ‘rainy day fund’ – or agreeing to use the money we could get from imposing a fair severance tax on the big oil companies that are poised to extract billions from our state in oil and natural gas – Gov. Kasich stubbornly refuses to restore a single penny of the money he’s cut from schools. In fact, he’s now talking about cutting the state income tax again – in a way that will favor the wealthiest Ohioans. Sooner or later, Ohio taxpayers are going to wake up and realize they’ve been had.”