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Local school districts dealing with huge financial challenges



Published: Sat, October 27, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Here’s a sobering reality about public education in Ohio that should open the eyes of voters in the Nov. 6 election: There will be 194 school levies on the ballot, including 123 seeking additional funding. The rest are renewals or continuations of taxes now on the books.

But that’s only part of the bad news confronting local school districts. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the 194 levies represent the highest percentage of new taxes in at least the past decade.

The Dispatch also notes that less than a third of the levies requesting new money have been approved since 2003. Renewal levies have a pass rate of 90 percent.

It doesn’t take a doctorate to figure out what’s going on in communities around the state: Taxpayers are in no mood to give schools or other public entities more money to operate.

It doesn’t matter to them that state funding has been slashed by about $800 million in the current biennium budget passed by the Republican controlled General Assembly and signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

It also makes no difference to most taxpayers that schools districts have imposed deep cuts in spending. They just don’t want to pay any more for schools.

Recognizing the economic stress people have been under because of the national recession, The Vindicator is not taking a position on the new levies being sought by school districts in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. We believe that each voter should make decision based on his or her own economic condition.

On the other hand, we urge passage of all the school tax renewals because depriving the districts of the money they now receive will affect the education of the students.

Given that at least 80 percent of a system’s operating budget goes for salaries and benefits, a reduction in the teaching workforce is inevitable.

And while there are some politicians who do not believe that class size makes a difference in the way students learn, scholarly studies have put such faulty thinking to rest.

In Mahoning County, six district have levies on the general election ballot. Of those, four are seeking additional revenue: Boardman, Jackson-Milton, Poland and Springfield.

Jackson-Milton is also asking voters to renew a 4.9-mill operating levy for five years. The tax would generate $988,485 a year, which is needed to avoid an operating deficit.

South Range, also hoping to avoid an operating deficit, is seeking the renewal of a 2.4-mill levy for 10 years. It is expected to generate $430,555.

In an earlier editorial, we urged the residents of the Youngstown City School District, which recently climbed out of state mandated fiscal emergency and is currently under state academic watch, to not hesitate in renewing a 10.4- mill tax. It would be in effect for four years and would bring in $5.29 million.

Defeat of the levy would deliver a crippling blow to the troubled urban school district.

In Trumbull County, voters in seven districts will have to decide just how important public education is to their communities.

There are residents in precincts in the Jackson Milton district who will vote on the additional and renewal levies.

Likewise, voters living in one precinct in Mesopotamia Township will vote on renewing Cardinal Local School District’s 9.7 mills for five years.

Champion and Mathews school districts are seeking additional revenue to meet emergency expenses.

Howland Local has the renewal of the 8.1- mill levy on the ballot. It would be in effect for 10 years and would generate $5.05 million.

Joseph Badger is asking voters to renew a 3.6-mill levy to generate $425,379. It would be in effect for 10 years.

These are challenging times for individuals and for school districts and other public entities. But, when the future of a community is inextricably tied to the strength of the school system, residents should take the time to examine the tax issues closely.

The Vindicator supports approval of the renewals.


Comments

1Knightcap(613 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

It's time to get off taxing people who own a home. Do away with all property taxes and go to a mixture of income tax, sales tax, lottery profits, casino/racino profits, renters tax, comercial property tax and raise fees to sweepstakes cafes. Let people own their home. Too many forclosures and raising property taxes just hurts the unemployed and people on fixed income. Also it is time for Kasich and his cabinet to take wage cuts and pay 25% of their health-care.

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2repeaters(180 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

"But, when the future of a community is inextricably tied to the strength of the school system, residents should take the time to examine the tax issues closely." This is 50's and 60's mentality Vindy, and it doesn't apply anymore. The strength of the school system is tied to the responsible spending with respect to the revenue strength of those living in that community. If you think money cures all ills in this situation, then go read some articles pertaining to the Chicago School System (fourth new school district CEO in three years, a deficit of 665 million for the current school year, and a humongous pension deficit).

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3CompMan(125 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

The Brookfield Board had 3 choices to alleviate their cash flow concerns: 1) increase the property tax mills from 51.85 with an additional 9.13 mills 2) use a 1% income tax on the "earned income only tax" based method. This method would have eliminated social security, pensions, IRA/401(k) distribtutions, and interest.3) use a the most agressive method of the "tradtional tax base method" which only excludes social security and grants a senior $50 credit per return filed. Brookfield chose to attack your pension, savings and IRA/401(k) monies that they don't tell people there is a difference. If you doubt what I write look at Ohio State Form SD100 and fill in your 2011 numbers to calculate your estimated 2013 cost. Also now a local tax form in addtion to state and federal. Adding income tax in addtion to property tax is a slippy slope to begin walking. Remember all all wage earners already will have a 2% increase in their FICA tax in 2013. Now you will be have 3% less money if this passes. Vote No on the Brookfield income tax.

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4Stamford50(1 comment)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

The choice seems obvious: support the schools and have a future for the city, or withhold support for the city's future and wait for the Corrections Corp. of America (NYSE:CXW) to herd thousands more of our kids into holding cells.

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5gdog4766(1264 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

If Kasich would restore the cuts to public education that he and Taft did things might not be so bad. There has never been a republican who has supported public education.

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6theotherside(328 comments)posted 1 year, 5 months ago

If money hadn't been diverted to risky, unproven, privatization and charter school schemes that enrich republican donors, the money would be there. Instead, while Taft's and Kasich's friends get rich at the expense of Ohio's school kids, the public schools suffer just because the republicans hate teacher unions.

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