Frustrate Ohioans shoot down school levies

The previous Ohio Gadfly raised an alarm about citizens' dissatisfaction with their public schools. As Halfway Out the Door reported, 59 percent of those surveyed don't think they are getting their money's worth out of public schools. So it should come as no shock that, of the 222 proposed school levies on the ballot November 8, barely half (57 percent) passed. Moreover, most of these were renewals, not new spending measures. Where levies did pass, the margins were usually tight. For example, in the Trotwood-Madison schools in Montgomery County, a $7.8 million levy passed by just 16 votes. In Springfield, voters rejected an emergency levy—the fourth such that citizens have voted down in two years. Now the district must cut $6 million from its budget. These defeats are especially interesting in light of the fact that public school performance has been improving in Ohio, and the state is ground zero for a number of significant reform initiatives. The lesson seems clear: politicians and school leaders need to do a better job of getting the word out about their varied and ongoing efforts to improve the state's schools.

"Faculty, students demoralized," Springfield News-Sun, November 10, 2005

"Halfway Out the Door," by Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, November 2005

"November 2005 Election Results," by Ohio Department of Education, November 9, 2005

"Ohioans Want Better Schools," by Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 12, 2005