The results of several Southwest Ohio school levies are in
Getting levies to pass has not been easy for many schools across Southwest Ohio. In last November's election, 9 out of the 12 local school districts on the ballot failed to pass measures that would secure funding for classroom essentials and resources. Tuesday's special election, however, proved to be more of a mixed bag.
Due to a lack of funding, some school districts, like Edgewood City Schools in Butler County, will be forced to make difficult decisions with their finances, resulting in significant staff cuts and the reduction of various academic programs. Others, like Loveland City Schools in Hamilton County, saw its first levy approval in nearly a decade.
Click on one of the links below to jump to each county's results.
In addition to several school levies, voters in Harrison had one contested candidate race in the Republican primary for mayor. William Neyer, the current mayor, was ousted by council member Ryan P. Grubbs, who took 58% of the vote to Neyer's 42%. No Democratic candidate filed for mayor in the primary, so Grubbs will be elected without opposition in November.
Forest Hills Local Schools: This year, FHSD asked voters to approve a 6.9 mill combination levy to maintain its current educational programming, avoid deficit spending, and make needed repairs to school buildings. It passed with 53% of the vote.
Regardless, the district plans to make significant cuts to stabilize its budget and avoid a negative cash balance by 2026. Forest Hills intends to eliminate a handful of full-time teaching positions at the end of the school year and reduce staff in its summer school program. The district also plans to raise its preschool tuition by $308 per student.
Loveland City Schools: In last November's general election, Loveland's proposed 4.9 mill operating levy was not approved by voters. This time was different, with 53% voting in favor.
This is the first time in nine years Loveland passed a levy. Superintendent Mike Broadwater previously told WVXU this one is a modest request that would only cover rising operational costs as a result of inflation. If the levy did not pass, the district said it would need to increase class sizes and offer fewer courses.
Northwest Local Schools: May's bond issue was the second phase of a master facilities plan to update the district's buildings. It was not approved in the last election, and it failed to pass again this time around, with 75% voting against it.
If it had passed, it would have raised $168,600,000 for the district over 38 years and fund key projects like renovations, the construction of two new middle schools, and a new Colerain Elementary, which just turned 100 years old.
Winton Woods City Schools: The school board placed another five-year levy on the ballot after previous attempts last year failed to get approval from voters. On Tuesday, the levy again failed to pass, with more than 77% of voters casting ballots against it.
The levy would have brought $3.5 million in additional funding to account for increased enrollment and higher staff wages. The district has not received any additional funding since 2009.
- Edgewood City Schools: The school district's treasurer Patti Bowers says Edgewood is forecasted to enter a spending deficit of $1.6 million this year. She attributes this deficit to teacher salary increases and inflation. To address it, the district asked the community to pass a 1% income tax levy to cover current expenses. It did not pass Tuesday night, with 57% of voters against the measure.
Ross Local Schools: In last November's election, the school attempted to pass a 7.9 mill operating levy, but it was rejected by voters. This year, the district's request to the community grew to a 9.5 mill, five-year emergency levy to cover its expenses. It did not pass, with 59% voting against it.
In the past two years, Ross Local Schools has cut about $1.8 million from its budget and expects to cut another $600,000 in personnel costs by next school year. The district is currently in deficit spending and its five-year forecast shows that even with significant staffing cuts, the deficit could grow to close to $6 million by 2027.
In a message to the community earlier this year, Superintendent Chad Konkle said the district would have to fire dozens of employees if the levy did not pass. Ross High School Principal Brian Martin told families students are already feeling the effects of staff cuts in the classroom, and the school could potentially lose numerous extracurricular activities if the financial situation does not improve.
Blanchester Local Schools: Blanchester had two levies on the ballot in multiple counties, as it spans four: Clinton, Clermont and Brown counties, in addition to Warren. The first was a 1% income tax over five years to cover current expenses; that passed. The other was a 5.2 mill permanent improvement levy estimated to amount to over $1 million for the district each year and would generate revenue for five years; that failed.
The 1% income tax will provide the school with funds for staff salaries, transportation and classroom materials.
Carlisle Local Schools: District treasurer Dan Bassler said in April he was confident the community would pass Carlisle's five-year renewal levy, and indeed they did, with 54% of voters approving. The levy was previously passed in 2013 and 2018. It will not increase taxes, and the plans generate close to $1 million in funds annually for the school district.
Bassler says the levy only intends to maintain current operations and will help the district avoid falling into a deficit. If passed, it will not need to be renewed again until 2028.
Franklin City Schools: After failing to renew its substitute levy in the fall, Franklin City Schools said it will need to pass this time or the district will have to reduce its budget by $1.9 million. This time voters approved the levy, with 67% voting in favor.
If it had not passed, Franklin would had to of gotten rid of its full-day kindergarten program, increase fees for extracurricular activities and reduce its transportation services. The levy does not increase taxes.
- Xenia Community Schools: This renewal levy would create $5 million for Xenia Schools and plans to keep the district's funding at its current levels to support its day-to-day operations. It would not increase taxes. Voters approved it Tuesday by 53%.