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What Failed School Levies in August Mean for School Levies This Fall

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Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 11:44 AM

Nearly all of the school levies calling for new property taxes failed in this week's special election.

What does that mean for the districts and voters facing levies on the ballot in November?

Our partners at WKSU say not much:

[Campaign consultant Jerry Rampelt] says normally two out of three levies fail due to voters being unwilling to pay more taxes and to schools running pretty bad campaigns. But in November, they’ll have the advantage of higher turnout, which historically is better for school levies.

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WOSU's Steve Brown asked former ice cream company executive and current public education enthusiast Jamie Vollmer why levies fail. Vollmer says it's because schools miscommunicate with voters:

"For my money, the prinicpal reason why these levies fail is that the people who go into that voting booth and vote no or, more to the point, pull the curtain and vote hell no, they misunderstand something fundamental, that when they vote against making sure their schools have what they need to have to educate every child they're cutting their own throats."

So how does a district get a levy passed? WCPN says one district did it by convincing voters that the minimum wasn't good enough for their kids:

"I hope that people have seen that we have been responsible with the money that we did have to that point,” says [Buckeye Local Superintendent Superintendent Brian Williams says]. “We’ve made lots of cuts to our school district, and it got to the point where there was nothing left to cut.  We had a plan in place that if this levy failed, we were approaching state minimum in many areas.  And I think our community just realized that state minimum wasn’t good enough, they didn’t want state minimum for their kids.”

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