School levies have been notoriously tough to pass in the last several years as voters struggled with an economy that has been slow to recover.
Typically, schools that ask for a renewal of an existing levy get it, while schools that want extra money are turned down. This election mostly followed the rule, though many districts were banking on the larger voter turnout of a presidential election.
Damon Asbury follows school levies for the Ohio School Boards Association.
“I think that the larger turnout still favors additional millage issues but you have to factor in the economy, you have to factor in that this is still a pretty divisive senatorial and presidential campaign that got a lot of issues about the economy in the background being talked about, and so I think it was a tough climate to pass any kind of an additional millage,” he says
But two of the biggest districts in the state – each desperate to pass levies — were successful. Voters in Cleveland approved a new, 15-mill levy that will largely go to pay for the Cleveland plan aimed at restoring the failing district.
And the Akron schools managed to pass a 7.9-mill levy after a similar attempt narrowly failed last year. Superintendent David James says this time the district started campaigning early, and was all over the community.
“We did not run TV ads. Knocking on doors and doing it the old fashioned way of actually meeting people and talking with them,” James says.
The Toledo school district was hoping to pass a levy to fund its own transformation plan, but voters there appeared to reject that levy.
Renewal levies in Cincinnati and Youngstown both passed.