Oh No! Not another School Levy!

By
Real Estate Sales Representative with Keller Williams Consultants Realty

Okay. The schools have a levy on the ballot.  What does that mean to you?  This is one of those "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" situations. Where you stand may depend on where you sit.  Someone said that, and it makes a little bit of sense.  What are the factors involving those seemingly ever present school levies?  And how should you view them as a home owner?

First of all the part about where you stand and sit.....If you have school aged children, you are most likely very concerned about the quality of the education your children receive.  Grandparents have many times a similar concern about their grandchildren.  They only want the very best for their beautiful little charges. And yet many times parents of school-aged children are operating on pretty tight budgets and grandparents are many times on a fixed income. 

On the other hand, if you do not have children or your children are all through school, the school quality is not of as great a concern to you as perhaps that of parents or grandparents.  Of course they should be of concern to everyone to an extent, becasue after all, those children in school right now will be the ones running the businesses, hospitals and (good grief) nursing homes and eldercare facilities that we will may be frequenting in the future.  And of course, there is always that age-old argument involving the value of property.  As the schools go, so goes the community.  This may be an old adage, but it pretty much holds true. Good schools---good community support---good place to live.

So schools are important to all of us, but why those continuous levies? Schools are the vicitims of a funding fiasco in Ohio.  The method used to fund schools is incredibly complex, inefficient and inequitable.  For years the schools in Ohio have struggled to get the funding system changed.  In fact, at one point they won a lawsuit against the state to have the system changed. Yep, the Supreme Court of Ohio ordered the legislature to change the system of funding. But the legislature simply didn't respond to the order. Did anything happen?  Well, the made a few minor changes in this or that, but no substantive changes were made. 

Schools are cursed or condemned or some other unforgiveable verb which means they have no choice but to frequently return to voters to simply maintain a reasonable operating level.  How can that be?  Well, as stated earlier, the system is complex, so trying to make this understandable will be a bit obtuse, but in a nutshell, the funding is set up in such a way as to continually "roll back" funds for schools to adjust to inflation.  So, even though costs for food, books, supplies, and electricity may go up, salaries may rise, gasoline costs increase, requirements for schools increase, etc., the amount of dollars a district receives remains the same. 

It is only logical that at some point in time, a school will require additional funds and they have absolutely no other option but to get that funding through a vote.  Increases at the state level are seldom, if ever, sufficient to cover the increase in costs.

So there you have it.  Schools, just like many of its constituents, operate on nearly fixed budgets. When the costs exceed the income, money has to be obtained from some source.....or cuts will need to be made.  Some will argue some cuts are necessary.  This may or may not be true. What is clear is that our Ohio system of school funding is and has been broken for at least the last 32 years.  Until or unless some new system of funding is determined and implemented, schools will continue to be forced to place levies and issues on the ballot.

Should you vote for or against them?  The choice is yours.

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