August 29, 2015

School Levy Profile: Elida Schools

Elida Local Schools serves 2,400 students at 4 buildings in the Allen County community northwest of Lima. Operating on an annual budget of $27 million in 2010-2011, the district lost $1.6 million in the last state budget. The cuts, which include the elimination of over $1.2 million in reimbursements for the discontinued tangible personal property tax hit the district hard.

In addition to lost state funding, the district also cites unfunded state mandates as a significant factor in its inability to make ends meet, even after reducing spending by $3 million over the past decade.

In 12 years, the district’s enrollment has remained unchanged, but they are now operating with 43 fewer staff. In addition to layoffs, the district has frozen wages, increased required employee contributions for health insurance, closed buildings, reduced bus service and adjusted the thermostats.

Despite that, the district still faces a severe deficit.

On November 6, Elida voters will be asked to support a new 5-year, 0.75-percent tax on earned income to generate $2 million per year to replace the lost state funding. The levy will cost $375 annually for a taxpayer with $50,000 in income.

If the levy fails, middle-schoolers will go without extra curricular activities, art, phys-ed and music will be eliminated, full-day kindergarten will end and bus service will be further curtailed.

In an interview with the Delphos Herald, the district’s Treasurer took aim at state legislators, calling on them to formulate a long-term plan for school funding. “We can’t cut 43 positions every decade. It’s impossible to think we can keep going backwards like this.”

The Governor is set to unveil his new school funding formula early in 2013. Unfortunately, any relief may come too late for the kids of Elida.

Read all of our levy profiles and find out more about which schools are on the ballot on our November 2012 levy information page.

School Levy Profile: Licking Heights Schools

Licking Heights, a district made up of five buildings serving 3,400 kids is facing severe challenges — unfortunately not uncommon among Ohio school districts. Facing declining tax revenues and the loss of revenue as a result of state lawmakers eliminating the tangible personal property tax in 2005, the district has been forced to cut $3.5 million since 2008.

The district has already taken cost-savings measures including charging students fees to participate in sports and activities, and it has held off hiring even as enrollment swelled, resulting in higher class sizes.

Now, the district is coping with the loss of another $1.3 million in what was an overall $1.8 billion reduction in education funding in the last two-year state budget. The cuts have forced the district to reexamine its ability to maintain programs in the face of new, looming deficits, necessitating another $2.3 million in spending cuts in fiscal years 2013 and 2014. [Read more…]

School Levy Profile: Chardon Schools

Chardon Local Schools is a district serving 3,300 students at six schools. The District’s 2010-11 budget was almost $34 million, with a third of that coming from the State. The district’s revenue has been in decline, and in 2011, they were forced to cope with the loss of another $2.5 million thanks to a two-year state budget that reduced funding for education by $1.8 billion.

In addition to state budget cuts and lower property tax revenues, the district cites unfunded state mandates such as curriculum changes and online testing requirements that force the purchase of new textbooks, computers and software as a drain on resources.

Chardon has already made severe cuts. Nearly $6.5 in spending was eliminated in part through salary freezes and health insurance contribution increases. The District has also made cuts to fine arts, music, business, technology, foreign language and electives. Yet the district still faces a $700,000 deficit this year, expected to grow to $3 million in 2013-14. [Read more…]

Kasich Budget Cuts = More School Levies

News Release

For Immediate Release: October 10, 2012
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833


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. [Read more…]

School Levy Profile: Grand Valley Local Schools

Located in Orwell in Ashtabula County, Grand Valley is a district of 1,363 students attending the elementary, middle and high schools. In 2010-11, the District’s budget was $13.9 million.

In the 2012-13 state budget, authored by Governor Kasich and endorsed by the majority GOP legislature, Grand Valley lost $680,000.

The district has been tightening its belt for years, but the state funding cuts hit hard. In all, the district has cut $1.2 million in spending in the past four years and $650,000 in the last year alone. Even without collective bargaining reform, the district was able to achieve savings by implementing a salary freeze and asking employees to pay more for their health insurance, but it wasn’t enough.

Recent measures to cut costs hit students directly. 27 staff, including teachers were eliminated. Pay-to-play fees were imposed and then increased. Bus routes were eliminated or combined.

Even worse, the District cancelled music, art, library and physical education at the elementary level as well as coaches, weekend and after school programs, special ed teachers and career advisers at all levels.

On November 6, the district will be seeking a 5-year, 4.9-mill emergency operating levy. If passed, the levy will generate $815,000 per year and increase tax bills by$150 on a $100,000 home.

If the levy fails, further cuts will be required. But given what has already been cut, it’s hard to imagine what else is left.

This is our first in a series of 20 district levy profiles. Check back every day for a new profile from now until election day.

IO Release: Husted Refuses to Take “No” for an Answer

News Release

For Immediate Release:  October 9, 2012
Contact:  Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

Chief Elections Officer Asks Supreme Court To Help Him
Suppress African-American Votes

Columbus — Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, today accused Secretary of State Jon Husted of betraying the core mission of his office by appealing a ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court that prohibits him from barring early voting on the last weekend before the election.

Last Thursday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling by a federal district court judge which overturned Husted’s order barring voting on the three days prior to Election Day.  In 2008, some 93,000 Ohioans — a significant portion of whom were African-American — voted on the final weekend. [Read more…]

Husted to appeal weekend voting ruling to US Supreme Court

There has been a major development in the fight over early voting that will send a new Ohio law to the US Supreme Court.

Over the past month, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has been fighting a lawsuit challenging a new Ohio law that prohibits voting on the final three days before an election to all but military voters. Opponents argued the law, passed by a GOP majority in the Ohio legislature, arbitrarily elevates the voting rights of one class of voters over all others, and two federal courts have agreed.

After Husted’s latest defeat in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel restored the right to open the polls to County Boards of Elections, Husted — instead of issuing a directive ordering county boards to open — has apparently gone the other way.

Citing what he called a “stunning ruling” that called for equal treatment of all voters by granting discretion to county boards to open on the final weekend, Husted announced he would appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court.

If Husted is concerned, as he has often claimed, about uniformity of access to the polls across Ohio’s 88 Counties, a more direct approach would have been for him to issue a directive setting standard hours for all County Boards. Instead, Husted has elected to delay further, elevating the matter to the highest court in the land, and continuing the standoff over when in-person early voting in Ohio will end.

As we noted yesterday, a new study shows that in-person early voting is disproportionately favored by African-American voters, who typically favor Democrats. The federal appeals court spoke of the benefits of weekend voting in its ruling, observing that voters may not be able to vote during weekday hours or on election day because of work schedules. Those voters are still in limbo today as a result of Husted’s actions.

Ruling affirms last weekend voting in Obama v Husted case

The Sixth Circuit Court of appeals today affirmed the decision of a lower court to block a new law that prohibited voting on the final three days before the election. Agreeing with the lower court that the law blocking non-military voters from voting on those days is unconstitutional, the ruling gives local Boards of Elections discretion to set hours for November 3-5.

Below is the key portion of the decision:

Read the full decision here.

The real question now becomes whether GOP board members will oppose any efforts to set hours on those final three days. In the case of a 2-2 tie (County boards of elections are made up of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans), Husted is the tie-breaking vote. Earlier this fall he sided with Republicans every time they tried to open up on evenings and weekends, eventually eliminating all evening and weekend hours when he was called out in the national media for unfairness.

Will Husted again act to aid and abet partisan board members who do not wish to open on the weekends, despite the court’s ruling?

New report: Ohio taxpayers are overpaying for e-Schools

State Impact Ohio —an imprint of NPR — and the Plain Dealer combined forces to produce a very compelling tale about e-Schools this weekend. At the story’s heart was this observation by Robert Mengerink, the head of the Cuyahoga County Educational Service Center.

“When he learned this summer that the agency he heads, the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, could offer a basic online program for less than half of what the state pays online schools per student, he was taken aback.” [Read more…]

FACT CHECK: Romney’s plan would cut education, drastically

Romney’s plan cuts not only Big Bird, but federal education spending by 39%

In the presidential debate last night, many claims were made. But one in particular caught our eye as especially misleading.

“I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding.”

But that’s exactly what his plan proposes. From “The Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs”:

Reduce federal spending as a share of GDP to 20 percent – its pre-crisis average – by 2016.

Even while it cuts total spending to 20 percent of the nation’s economy, compared to 23 percent today, the plan also promises to increase the rate of growth in GDP, but also increases spending on defense and holds Social Security and Medicare harmless. To make the numbers work, Romney has admitted it will require nearly $500 billion in annual cuts by 2016.

That kind of money is not going to come exclusively from eliminating Big Bird. [Read more…]