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School tax approval hits historically low mark

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(The Center Square) – Only six of the 36 Ohio school districts asking for a tax increase in last month’s primary election got it. And voters approved only 40 of the 57 districts asking to renew existing taxes.

Both were historically low numbers in the state.

Support Ohio Schools, an Ohio-based nonprofit that does research and consults with districts across the state on tax levy campaigns, blamed the failures on higher property evaluations, inflation, low voter turnout and more Republicans voting than Democrats.

“You throw all those together, that doesn’t speak well for levy success,” Mike Collins, executive director of Save Ohio Schools, told The Center Square. “We were well aware these factors were going to be a factor. The fact they showed up to be a greater factor than they were in 2010, it’s more substantial.”

Overall, 1.76 million of Ohio’s 8 million registered voters cast ballots in the March election, which featured an already-decided presidential primary and a contested Republican election for the U.S. Senate.

In an email analysis of the primary, Save Ohio Schools said Republican voters doubled the number of Democrat voters.

The nonprofit said its research shows an average 35.7% of new school tax requests pass, while voters approve 91.3% of renewals. In March, 16.6% of new tax asks were passed, and 70.2% of renewals passed.

The analysis looked at school levies on the ballot from 2006 through 2024.

Previously, the lowest passage marks came in November 2010 (25% of new taxes) and November 2020 (83.3% of renewals).

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Collins said. “We didn’t anticipate it was going to be this great of a challenge. I am not willing to say this is indicative of how the public feels on schools and school issues.”

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