Voters in nine Ohio counties will vote on local school levies tomorrow. All of the levies to be considered are requests for new money.
This seems to be the trend in the aftermath of Kasich’s $1.8 billion in cuts to school district funding. We have seen an unprecedented $1.1 billion in new property and income taxes for schools since Kasich’s last budget. On Tuesday, there will be 5 school districts asking for money to use on operating costs in 8 counties. There is also a levy on the ballot in Summit County, but it’s for construction projects so it’s not related to the schools who are struggling to maintain operation.
- Hillsdale Local School District (Ashland & Wayne County)- 5 year, 1.25% income tax and a $7.9 million property tax both to be spent on current expenses. The levy is an attempt to avoid state control of the district and the massive cuts that come along with that. The superintendent of Hillsdale, Joel Roscoe, said in a statement that “If the levy doesn’t pass it will devastate the district. We’ll see immediate layoffs, changes to programming, potential layoffs of 15 to 19 staff members and changes in pay to participate.” If the levy doesn’t pass the district will have a $1.7 million dollar deficit by the end of the next school year.
- Edison Local School District (Jefferson & Carroll County)- $9.45 million property tax to be spent on current expenses. Edison’s superintendent, Bill Beattie, says that if their levy fails they’ll have to cut busing for students in grades 9-12 and they’ll be forced to close down Pleasant Hill Elementary Midview Local School District (Lorain County)- 10 year, $9.75 million property tax to be spent on meeting the state’s emergency requirements. Midview would also have to cut busing funding along with the elimination of language, music, and athletic programs.
- Jackson Center Local School District (Shelby & Logan County)- 5 year, .5% income tax to be spent on current expenses, $250,000 expected to be raised. Jackson Center is putting their levy on the ballot on Tuesday after it lost by a mere 3 votes in the November elections. Their employees’ wages are frozen until the fate of the levy is known
- Waterloo Local School District (Portage County)- 5 year, $5.9 million property tax to avoid an operating deficit. Waterloo Local district is in a particularly tough situation. The district has already cut $2 million from their budget over the past 2 years and has little else to cut according to superintendent Andrew Hill. The district is dangerously close to the state minimum amount of teachers and has seen their state rating go from “Excellent with Distinction” to “Effective” in the last two years of budget cuts.
All of these levies can be seen as a direct response to Kasich’s cuts to education. For many districts, this is the second or third time they’ve put the same levy on the ballot.