Eye on Education

School Levies Struggled in August 7 Summer Election

J.D. Pooley / Getty Images

A sign directing voters hangs on a chair at a polling station setup at a elementary school as Ohio heads to the polls on March 6, 2012 in Bowling Green, Ohio.

School levies around the state did not fair well in Tuesday’s election.

Twenty-five failed, 10 passed, and one was pulled from the ballot. If you’re keeping score, that means more than 70 percent of school levies failed.

Schools have struggled to get levies passed in the last few elections, and there’s a pretty easy explanation for that: when the economy is slow, folks object to anything that will raise their taxes.

But, at least this year, there may be another reason.

[Find district-by-district results here.]

Part of the reason districts had trouble passing levies is “the political rhetoric that is much larger beyond the specific school district,” says Stephen Brooks, a political scientist at the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute.

Brooks says that is “a national discussion about whether the more government or more taxes or we if can end up cutting taxes and being successful.”

This being a presidential election year, voters are being inundated with messages about big versus small government. And Brooks says even fears around the economy are usually just that – fears. It’s not necessarily that people literally can’t afford higher taxes, it’s that they’re not confident enough that the economy will bounce back.

Brooks says voters may be surprised at just how much schools are hurting these days. Given deeper than expected budget cuts from the state, schools may have a harder time bouncing back from failed levies than in the past. He predicts the schools that saw their levies fail will likely return to voters next year, since taxes are one of their few sources of revenue.

Many of Ohio’s more than 600 school districts, including Cleveland, Toledo, and Akron, have decided to wait until the big election day in November to try their chances, hoping a presidential election will draw out a bigger, more school-friendly voter turnout.

Others, like Columbus City Schools, are putting their levies off even further.

Aug. 7 School Issue Unofficial Results

New, Renewal or Replacement
Ashtabula Area CityAshtabulaProperty TaxNewFailed
Geneva Area CityAshtabulaProperty TaxNewFailed
Jefferson Area LocalAshtabulaProperty TaxNewFailed
Monroe LocalButler*, WarrenProperty TaxNewFailed
Columbiana Exempted VillageColumbiana*, MahoningProperty Tax (Bond)NewFailed
Brecksville-Broadview Heights CityCuyahogaProperty TaxRenewalPassed
Tri-Village LocalDarkeProperty TaxNewFailed
Buckeye Valley LocalDelaware*, Marion, Morrow, UnionCombined: Income Tax, Property Tax (Bond)NewFailed
Margaretta LocalErie*, SanduskyProperty TaxRenewalPassed
Groveport-MadisonFranklinProperty TaxSubstitutePassed
Swanton LocalFulton*, LucasProperty TaxRenewalPassed
Chardon LocalGeauga*, LakeProperty TaxNewFailed
Xenia Community CityGreeneEarned Income TaxReplacementFailed
Lockland LocalHamiltonProperty TaxNewRemoved from ballot
East Holmes LocalHolmes*, WayneProperty TaxNewFailed
Madison LocalLakeProperty TaxNewFailed
North Fork LocalLicking*, KnoxEarned Income TaxNewFailed
Buckeye LocalMedinaProperty TaxNewPassed
Bethel LocalMiamiProperty TaxRenewalPassed
Bethel LocalMiamiProperty TaxReplacementPassed
Tipp City Exempted VillageMiamiProperty TaxNewFailed
Vandalia-ButlerMontgomeryProperty TaxNewFailed
Northmont CityMontgomery*, Darke, MiamiProperty TaxRenewalPassed
Clear Fork Valley LocalRichland*, KnoxEarned Income TaxNewFailed
Clyde-Green Springs Exempted VillageSanduskyProperty TaxNewFailed
Green LocalSciotoProperty TaxNewFailed
Jackson Center LocalShelby*, Auglaize, LoganEarned Income TaxNewFailed (by 1 vote)
Louisville CityStarkProperty TaxNewFailed
Osnaburg LocalStark*, CarrollEarned Income TaxNewFailed
Coventry LocalSummitCombined: Bond (Property Tax), Additional Property TaxNewFailed
Barberton CitySummitProperty TaxNewFailed
Woodridge LocalSummitProperty TaxNewFailed
Dalton LocalWayneProperty TaxRenewalPassed
Bryan CityWilliamsProperty Tax (Bond)NewFailed
Edon Northwest LocalWilliamsCombined: Income Tax, Property TaxNewFailed
Lake LocalWood*, OttawaProperty TaxAdditionalPassed

Source: County Boards of Election | Download Data

Note: A table in an earlier version of this post incorrectly described the Groveport Madison levy. It is a substitute levy.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1626902149 Jason Cowling

    What really hurts is these levies are not designed to increase any services, even if passed they still result in cuts. So people in Medina (where the levy passed) now pay roughly $250 more in taxes per year on a 100k house – and get nothing for it. And as this article relates, 70% of communities weren’t that lucky. At least the rainy day fund is growing

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »