COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) - Voters across Ohio approved 105 of 192 school tax issues Election Day.
"We are pleased that even in a difficult economy, voters in many communities affirmed their support and investment in public education," said Damon Asbury, Ohio School Boards Association director of legislative services.
A total of 55 percent of school tax issues were approved by voters Tuesday, a rate largely consistent with previous years. Ohio voters approved 95 of 187 school tax issues in November 2011, a passage rate of 51 percent.
Voters approved 45 of 122 new school tax issues, a passage rate of 37 percent. Nearly two-thirds of all school issues on the ballot were for new money, the highest percentage in a general election in a decade. Faced with decreased state funding, declining revenues and a difficult economy, more school districts are being forced to turn to their local communities for support.
"These are challenging times not only for Ohioans, but also for our public schools," said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. "School districts, in many cases, have had to turn to their communities to help them weather an unprecedented storm and maintain educational excellence."
The two-year state budget approved by lawmakers in 2011, ultimately reduced funding to public schools as part of an effort to close a deficit. Changes in state funding related to tangible personal property tax reimbursements, combined with the elimination of federal stimulus dollars, have left Ohio schools with nearly $1.6 billion less funding in the current biennium than they would have if education funding remained at 2010-2011 levels.
With a passage rate of 86 percent, 60 out of 70 renewal school tax issues were approved Election Day. Ohio schools that struggled on the ballot will likely be forced to make difficult budget decisions, including new rounds of cuts.
Election results are complete, but have not been officially certified by the Ohio secretary of state.