All Ten School Levies for New Operating Funds Fail

Yesterday we profiled ten school districts who were seeking new operating funds in yesterday’s special election. All were facing budget deficits, heightened thanks to state budget cuts. All had made significant cuts in recent years, and sought levy funds to restore programs or prevent additional cuts.

All ten attempts failed.

Even by historical standards, this is a shockingly high failure rate. Typically 35% of requests for additional funds succeed.

Most of these districts will be back on the ballot in November, which represents the last chance to get a tax change in effect for 2014. Unfortunately, their task will now be even harder.

In November, the same levies will now cost homeowners up to 14% more thanks to a change — enacted in the state budget and signed into law by Governor Kasich — that eliminates Ohio’s longstanding property tax rollback.

If these districts fail again in November, the consequences for some will be dire. As we outlined yesterday, three will no longer offer all-day, every-day kindergarten. Four will have eliminated non-core course offerings, eight will have reduced bus transportation and none will have imposed steep – as high as $750 per student – fees for activities and sports.

August cuts

Governor Kasich has long suggested that voters reject new levies, and Senate President Faber said he hoped the elimination of the rollback would make levies harder to pass. But they have also reduced state support for education (schools will get $514 million less in 2014-15 than they did in 2010-11).

school funding

From the example provided by these ten districts, it is becoming clear that the consequences of these policies are incredibly troubling.