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Ohio school districts still must rely heavily on local property taxes
Although the state Supreme Court finds the funding structure unconstitutional, most schools have no choice but the voter

Mark Smith of Cedarville University says that in most cases, local schools are dependent on local property taxes.
Courtesy of Cedarville University
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School levies are among the biggest issues on the ballot in the November 5 election. For Ohio Public Radio, WYSO's Lewis Wallace reports Ohio schools depend on these levies, even though the state Supreme Court has found the funding structure unconstitutional.

LISTEN: Levies are a main operating source for most schools

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Money for Ohio’s public schools comes from three sources: federal funds, state funds and local tax levies.

"Levies then become the source really of their chief operating funds. For most cases, those local schools are very dependent upon those local property taxes," says Mark Smith of Cedarville University. He notes that property taxes vary a lot from district to district, which is why the state Supreme Court has repeatedly found this funding structure unconstitutional.

"The Constitution in Ohio requires there to be equitable funding," Smith says.

But statewide reforms attempting to even the playing field still leave districts to rely on levy funding. And many of those districts are having a hard time; in an August special election, voters rejected two thirds of school levy requests.

This November, 195 Ohio districts are putting school funds on local ballot.

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