Ohio School Levies Meet Mixed Success; School Funding Fight Likely

Last Updated: November 27, 2012

This article appeared in the November 2012 Rural Policy Matters.

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Over half of the 192 district levies on Ohio ballots passed in this months elections. Renewal requests had a much better chance of passage (87 percent) than new levies, which passed at a 37 percent rate.

Nearly two-thirds of all local issues on Ohio ballots this year were requests for new money, the highest percentage in a general election in a decade, according to statistics compiled by the Ohio School Boards Association. Efforts last year to close the state budget deficit resulted in major cuts in state funding for local school districts.

School funding will be a contentious issue in the upcoming legislative session. Governor John Kasich, who has publicly questioned whether schools need additional money, has promised to unveil a new school funding formula this winter to replace former Governor Ted Strickland’s model. Kasich has not yet released details of his plan but claims that Strickland’s model includes too many unfunded mandates and too little emphasis on classroom needs. He has suggested schools should do more to share services, including buses, cafeterias, and administration, as a way to save money.

In addition, two new organizations have announced plans to address school funding. Strong Schools, Strong Communities (SSSC) says it will advocate for a fair, sustainable, and equitable funding formula and will educate the public about charters, vouchers, and other policies. SSSC is supported by teacher groups and the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding, which was formed in the early 1990s to challenge the school-funding system.

The second group is 10,000 Moms United. Its public website consists of an “Open Letter … to Lawmakers,” claiming that “our schools are broken and, as taxpayers, we’re being cheated.” The website claims to “love our schools and the teachers who work so hard to help our kids,” but charges “too many of our children [are] failing to reach their full potential.”

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Read more from the November 2012 Rural Policy Matters.