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NE Ohio voters reject most new levy requests for school buildings and operations

Supporters of the Parma City School District levy walked the main streets of Parma in early October to advocate for a yes vote on the levy.
Parma Partners in Education
Supporters of the Parma City School District levy walked the main streets of Parma in early October to advocate for a yes vote on the levy.

Voters said no to many Northeast Ohio public schools' requests for additional money, with most bond issues and new levies failing at Tuesday's ballot box, including in Parma, Garfield Heights and North Ridgeville.

Schools had been seeking new money from property taxes to construct new buildings, while others had hoped to stay afloat amid challenging economic times.

It was an uphill battle for some, considering past failed attempts to get levies passed, but there were positive signs for some schools, including a likely narrow victory for the Canton City School District, and more convincing wins for Beachwood City Schools, Midview Local School District and Brunswick City School District.

Some good news also came to school districts seeking levy renewals – which means tax payers continuing to pay property taxes at the same rate they previously had – with many getting voter approval, according to unofficial results.

Cuyahoga County

Garfield Heights School District voters soundly rejected a combined bond issue (2.6 mill) and school levy (8.6 mill) to fund construction of a new middle school and outdoor complex at Garfield Heights High School, with 78% opposed.

Parma voters also appeared to reject the school district’s fourth attempt at a 4-mill bond issue. At the end of the night, 7,750 voters opposed the bond compared to 6,727 in favor. That bond issue was meant to fund construction of a new high school on the site of Parma Senior High School that will house the consolidated population of the district’s three current high schools. The district has notably had two board members resign amid scandal in the last decade-plus.

Beachwood voters approved a 3.95-mill bond issue, 1,308 votes in favor to 785 opposed. The bond will fund construction of two new elementary school buildings and renovate the district’s early childhood education center. That also means Beachwood City Council’s move to pause the city’s 2.4-mill levy for several years - meant to incentivize voter support for the new developments - will go into effect.

An attempt by Independence Local School District on a replacement levy, increasing the millage of a prior levy, was a failure with 58% of voters. It was intended to help the school district keep up with increasing costs and pay for newly expanded security, athletic programs and career development.

Summit County

Residents of Springfield Local School District, which is currently under fiscal watch by the state, narrowly defeated a 3.77-mill levy that would have helped the district build back programming – areas including arts, music and career preparation – that have been cut over the years. In Summit County, 1,312 voted against the levy while 1,249 supported it, while over the border in Portage County, 15 people voted for the tax levy and 52 against it.

Voters also defeated a levy attempt at Mogadore Local School District, 420 to 174.

Stark County

Canton City School District’s 4.3-mill bond issue was likely narrowly approved by a difference of only 55 votes out of 4,685 cast. That will allow the district to build new elementary schools at the current sites of Souers and Mason schools at a cost of roughly $60 million.

Meanwhile, Perry Local School District voters resoundingly defeated a 7.3-mill, five-year operating levy that the district said would help keep things running, 3,632 to 1,730. The district has not seen any new money for general operating purposes in more than two decades. Voters had approved a bond issue to pay for new buildings several years prior.

One of the largest levy requests seen Tuesday night, Lake Local Schools’ 13-mill operating levy, also failed by a sizable margin of 70% opposed to 30% in favor.

Portage County

Voters narrowly rejected a five-year, 8.3-mill tax levy renewal and increase at Waterloo Local School District to help prevent an operating deficit, 797 to 728.

Ravenna City School District also did not get voter approval of a 6.9-mill, five-year levy, its first operating levy attempt since 2005. The vote was 934 opposed to 550 in favor. Advocates had said money would be used to purchase a new math curriculum, improved electives in robotics and science, technology, engineering and math and develop a new entrepreneurial pathway at the high school.

Medina County

Brunswick City School District and Buckeye Local School District saw mixed results with two bond issues, with Buckeye voters not approving a 5.6-mill bond issue (2,954 to 1,148) and Brunswick seeing success with a smaller 3.33-mill bond issue (4,542 to 3,976).

The Buckeye bond issue would have been used to build a new grade 7-12 building with new athletic facilities to complement it. The Brunswick levy will go toward the construction of a new high school along with new athletic and performing arts facilities and add new classrooms at Applewood and Kidder elementary schools.

Lorain County

North Ridgeville City School District likely narrowly missed approval of an 8.32-mill bond issue to build a new high school and elementary school, with 3,603 against and 3,566 in favor. The district had previously tried and failed to get a similar bond issue passed in November 2022, along with a failed operating levy attempt in May 2022.

Midview Local School District voters, meanwhile, overwhelmingly approved an 8.69-mill operating levy, 3,003 to 1,276, despite a previous attempt failing in November 2022.

Ashland County

Voters rejected a .75-percent earned income tax at Mapleton Local School District, 623 to 451. The district has said it could start deficit spending within the year and deplete its cash reserves in about five years without the levy. The last time Mapleton passed a new operating levy was 1992, Ashland Source reports.

Wayne County

Wooster City School District voters heavily disfavored a 6.71-mill bond issue to build a new sixth-through-eighth grade middle school and a new kindergarten-through-second grade elementary school, with 687 in favor to 2,545 against.

Erie County

Voters soundly defeated a 6.71-mill bond issue at Edison Local School District, meant to renovate and improve school facilities, 1,273 against to just 275 in favor, with nine of 10 precincts reporting. Meanwhile, voters at Perkins Local School District also rejected a 6.77-mill bond issue, meant to build a new combined middle and high school building, 1,571 opposed to 979 in favor.

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.