Earlier this month, more than 100 Ohio school districts asked voters to approve new taxes. In most districts, voters said no.
Now, some school districts whose levies failed are making cuts while others are moving along and doing business as usual.
With its request for a new tax denied, Akron might have bigger class sizes and close a high school. Cincinnati and Lake Local are both planning for layoffs. In suburban Columbus, Hilliard plans to cut about 15 teachers as well as fifth grade band and middle school sports.
In the Clear Fork school near Mansfield district officials are considering eliminating classes with low enrollment. In the Columbus suburbs, Westerville could cut sports, all extracurricular activities and the district’s subject-based schools.
The Tri-Rivers Career Center near Marion will miss out on money to fund part of a major renovation project. The Northwest school district in Cincinnati is looking at layoffs, changing bus routes and start times and doubling activity fees to $200 per activity per child.
But not every levy defeat results in immediate cuts. After a new earned income tax levy in Medina, in northeastern Ohio, failed, the school board voted to reduce fees for extracurricular activities anyway because of concerns about students being unable to play sports or participate in school clubs due to the fees. (The district hopes to make up the loss of higher fees through increased participation.) And in Portsmouth, near the Kentucky border, drug education programs will continue even though a county-wide levy to fund the programs failed.
Although it may appear that in some districts levies can fail without appearing to affect what happens in the classroom, that isn’t the case, Ohio School Boards Association Deputy Executive Director Rob Delane told us earlier this month:
“Do do you want schools that operate at minimum standards or do people expect schools to be able to compete in a global society in the 21st century? It wont be as easy to get there [to a globally competitive education] without the appropriate resources.”