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Published: Saturday, 3/26/2005

Ohio to decide 200 school issues

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

More than 200 school tax issues will be on the May 3 ballot in Ohio, according to a preliminary list released yesterday by the Ohio secretary of state.

Twenty-two districts are seeking bond issues for construction or renovations; 34 districts are seeking income tax measures, and 151 districts are asking for approval of property tax levies.

There are several school districts with multiple issues on the ballot.

Patrick Henry Local Schools, for example, is seeking renewal of a five-year, 1.9-mill levy for permanent improvements and renewal of a five-year, 2.45-mill levy for operating expenses.

The current number of issues is an increase over the last May election in 2003. During that election, there were 160 school issues on the ballot. Of those, 137 districts had one issue on the ballot; 10 had two issues, and one school district had three issues on the ballot.

Almost 44 percent of those tax measures failed, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

In May, 2002, there were 148 issues on the ballot.

Fred Pausch, chief lobbyist for the Ohio School Boards Association, said education funding in Ohio makes it necessary for school district to keep asking property owners for more money.

"Our school funding system here in the state is broke and I think until we change how we finance public education, local school districts will have to continue seeking the support of local taxpayers," Mr. Pausch said.

"Last year, we had a record number of school districts on the ballot, and it goes to show the financial difficulty many of our school districts are facing."

In Lucas County, Toledo Public Schools is seeking a five-year, 2.5-mill permanent improvement levy. The tax would replace a 2.5-mill levy that expires at the end of the year. The new levy would cost the owner of a $75,000 house an additional $27 a year, for a new total of $54 annually and would generate about $3 million more than the $4.8 million the district currently collects annually.

In Maumee, school officials are asking voters to approve a 5.9-mill levy to pay for operating expenses.

It will generate $3.1 million a year, and cost the owner of a $100,000 house $180.69 per year.



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