School districts across the region have been forced into a no-win situation by state lawmakers, who have all but abandoned their responsibility to provide a workable way to finance public education.
Eight local school districts have tax measures on Tuesday's ballot. Sandusky, Perkins, Margaretta, Clyde-Green Springs, Monroeville, Norwalk, Genoa and Plymouth-Shiloh school districts all are asking residents to support local taxes to fund their districts.
Residents in Sandusky will either approve, or reject, the 5.4-mill operating levy for the Sandusky Schools on Tuesday, but there is nothing ordinary or routine about this vote. The outcome will set the stage for the school district's future.
But school officials in every district will come back to residents again in future elections for more local tax money because lawmakers in Columbus long ago dropped the "pay as you go" approach to sound financial support for Ohio's public schools in favor of a "good luck to you" approach.
They shifted the tax burden for public education from state income tax funds to increased property taxes on local residents. Make no mistake, that's exactly what happened, and it's what led to the financial problems schools are experiencing.
Columbus abandoned sound financing for public education and left local school officials holding the bag, the easy target for where to assign blame. But the sleazy way lawmakers slinked away does not change the fact residents still have a choice: Support quality education, or abandon it just like our state representatives have.
A "yes" vote for schools restates the commitment in each of these communities residents have to their schools and their cities. Poor performing schools decrease property values, and signify stagnation. A "yes" vote on local school tax measures is an affirmation for families, for children, for communities.
A "no" vote represents an endorsement of the irresponsibility of state lawmakers to address the needs of public education before their own personal needs for re-election. Vote "no" if you must, but please hold lawmakers responsible for the mess they've created.
And remember, even if lawmakers do suddenly take action to repair the state's broken funding system, it will be years before their deeds have any positive results. Don't hold your breath.
While it might stink that you have to bear more of the direct cost for education in your community, that is the reality until Columbus changes. If you choose not to fund your schools, you are endorsing a "Rust Belt" future for your community.