Repeated levy efforts questioned

To the editor:

As a resident and property owner in the Edison Local School District, I am disturbed at the repeated, insistent efforts-including the May 6 primary election-to wear down voters to get an operating levy passed.

The Ohio levy system appears on its surface to be democratic (after all, it’s said, the voters are the ones who are making the decision.) The reality, however, is that we see one-sided campaigns with public officials or persons allied with them who are pushing such levies presenting their version of the facts with a few allied organized groups supporting them and no serious public debate. Such debate is essential for voters to make intelligent judgments, for the “democratic process” to work.

Further, the fact that school officials can keep bringing a levy before the voters (as in Edison) virtually every year, even after its repeated defeats, is demeaning. That the Legislature has allowed this to occur makes one think it is concerned more about satisfying officials and organized interests than hard-working property owners and the general public. A defeated levy should not be permitted to go back on the ballot for at least three years.

As far as the Edison levy is concerned, proponents say the average homeowner will have to pay only an extra $17-$18 per month in taxes. That is more than $200 a year, which is not an inconsequential amount for my family or, I suspect, many others. How much officials in the district have seemed “out of touch” with taxpayers was underscored some years back when one of them said that the $100 or so that a levy proposal would then have cost homeowners was the cost of a pair of sneakers. Our family buys our sneakers at discount shoe and department stores for a fraction of that.

The pro-levy literature notes that Edison schools spend more than $4,000 less than the average amount spent per pupil in public schools around the U.S. The research, however, is clear that better school performance does not necessarily follow from more money spent. Nonpublic schools generally achieve better academic performance than public schools with less funding; perhaps Edison should learn from them. Instead of just looking to the taxpayers for more money, has the district seriously undertaken fundraising efforts like nonpublic schools and even some public school districts do? The literature says that the lack of funds has resulted in busing being eliminated for the upper grades. How many high school-age students would be driving to school anyway? The literature also laments that Edison students have to be charged fees to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities. Is this unreasonable? Should extracurricular costs be so readily transferred to taxpayers?

The issue that is ignored in the repeated push for the Edison levy is this: Is it fair to expect property owners alone – most of whose land does not itself generate income, and who are not the only ones permitted to take part in levy votes-to ante up the additional funds that the district seeks?

Stephen M. Krason

Richmond