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Approval rates of local school bond and tax questions in 2010, January-June

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This page is a research report about local school bond and tax elections votes held from January 1-June 30, 2010 in 14 states where comprehensive information about such elections is available. Information regarding the statistics of elections held July - December 2010 can be found here: Approval rates part two.

School bond votes took place in 11 of the selected states, while school tax votes took place in 12 of the selected states.

Through June 30, voters in the 14 states assessed in this study weighed in on 728 local school finance measures on 17 different election dates.[1]

The overall approval rate, counting both school bond and school tax votes, in the selected 14 states was 71.3%.

The average approval rating for school bond elections was lower, at 60.4% in the 11 states with school bond votes. The average approval rating for school tax votes was 76.2%.

Type of school finance measure Number of elections Number of approvals  % approved
Bonds 283 171 60.4%
Taxes, tax levies 467 356 76.2%
(Ohio adjustment)[1] (22) (8) na
Totals: 728 519 71.3%

One state in the study, Missouri, includes figures just for 27 of the state's 114 counties, because not all counties in the state provide local school bond and tax vote information and researchers were unable to locate a central school bond and tax vote database for the state.

See also: Where to find information about local school bond and tax elections

School bond votes

In the 14 states studied by Ballotpedia for this research project, 3 conducted no school bond vote elections in the first six months of 2010.

In the remaining 11 states, 283 school bond votes were held. 171 of the proposed school bonds were approved, or 60.4%.

  • New Mexico had the highest success rate, with 10 out of 10 school bond requests approved.
  • California and Missouri had approval rates of over 70%.
  • Illinois, New Jersey and Ohio had approval rates of below 50%.

     Winning percentage above 70%     Winning percentage below 50%

State Number of bond elections Number of bond approvals  % approved
California 20 15 75.0%
Illinois 12 6 55.0%
Michigan 40 23 57.5%
Missouri[2] 29 21 72.4%
New Jersey 21 8 38.0%
New Mexico 10 10 100%
Ohio[1] 30 15 50.0%
Oregon 3 2 66.7%
Texas 78 45 57.7%
Washington 13 8 61.5%
Wisconsin 27 18 66.7%
Totals: 283 l71 60.4%

School tax votes

School bond and tax researchers
Johanna.JPGKyle Maichle(small).jpg
Johanna HermanKyle Maichle

In the 14 states studied by Ballotpedia for this research project, 2 conducted no school tax vote elections in the first six months of 2010.

In the remaining 12 states, 467 school tax votes were held. 356 of the proposed school taxes were approved, or 76.2%.

Florida school tax vote figures in the chart below are incomplete, because not all Florida counties provide this information and researchers have been unable to discover a central database for Florida school bond and tax votes.

     Winning percentages above 70%     Winning percentages below 50%

State Number of taxes voted on Number of taxes approved  % approved
Arizona 9 4 44.4%
California 23 16 69.6%
Florida 1 1 100%
Illinois 6 2 33.3%
Iowa 9 8 88.9%
Michigan 53 49 92.5%
Missouri[2] 12 9 75%
New Jersey 6 6 0%
Ohio[1] 136 78 57.4%
Oregon 2 1 50%
Washington 173 164 94.8%
Wisconsin 37 18 48.6%
Totals: 467 356 76.2%

School budget votes

New Jersey and New York school districts hold a third kind of local school vote, in addition to votes on school taxes and school bonds. In these states, each district also is required to hold an overall vote on the district's budget.

New Jersey

New Jersey's school district votes attracted national attention in 2010 because of the low rate of approval.

538 school districts held budget votes in April. The electorate approved only 222 of these, for an overall approval rate of 41.3%.

This low approval rating was the first time since 1976 that New Jersey voters rejected a majority of proposed school budgets. In 2009, the school budget approval rate was 73.3%.[3]

New York

677 school district budget votes were held in New York's school districts on May 18. 624 budgets were approved, amounting to the overwhelming majority of 92% of the votes held on May 18. the school budget votes were approval.

If a budget loses in a school district, a re-vote can be taken. Re-votes were taken in 34 districts, and 30 of those re-votes then resulted in approvals, while only 4 resulted in a second defeat.

Overall, then, of the 677 school districts that sent their budgets to a vote on May 18, 654 (96.6%) ultimately resulted in an approval.[4]

School election dates

See also: Comparison of rules governing when school bond and tax votes can be scheduled

While a state can hold several local elections a year, most have one that contains the bulk of issues for the year for that state on the local level, sometimes on the primary election date and not including the November election date. January held no significant school votes in any of the ten followed states, but New Jersey did hold a school election that month. For Illinois, February 2 was its primary election date, with 53 counties having some sort of issue on their local ballot. Out of the 117 issues proposed, only 32 dealt with school bonds or taxes. Missouri and Ohio's February 2 election was small. Washington also had its large local election the 9th of February, with 244 total measures being voted on in 37 counties. The Wisconsin election on the 16th and the Michigan election on the 23rd were not large, but included a fair amount of counties in the states. New Mexico also held an election February 2 where 9 proposed bond measures were approved by voters.

Arizona had a large election the 9th of March and Florida held a small school election on the 18th. New Jersey had 5 proposed school measures voted on in March, only 2 were approved. In April 4 of the 8 proposed measures in New Jersey gained approval. New Mexico had one bond vote in the month of April and it was approved. In April, Missouri and Wisconsin both had their large elections on the 6th of the month. Washington also had another election on the 27th, but only 16 counties had measures and was not as large as the February election. In May, Michigan had a large election on the 4th of the month, with 28 counties proposing measures. The large primary election took place in Ohio on the 4th, 33 counties had measures, more than were able to be reported on the election date page. The Oregon Primary was on the 18th of the month and had 19 counties with local measures. In June, only Wisconsin held an election with a school issue being proposed.

Month State with school election
January NJ
February CA, IL, MI, MO, NM, WA, WI
March AZ, CA, FL, NJ
April MO, NJ, NM, WA, WI
May CA, MI, OH, OR, TX
June CA, WI

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The figures for Ohio include only the results of local school bond and tax votes on May 4, 2010. The school bond total was derived from taking the 8 bond-only measures on the May ballot, 6 of which won, and the 22 bond+tax measures on the May ballot, 9 of which won. In the tax vote category, on May 4 there were 114 tax-only votes (69 were approved) and the same 22 bond+tax votes counted in the bonds column. The overall totals reported on this page are adjusted so that the 22 tax+bond measures are not double-counted in the final summary statistic.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Note: The Missouri numbers are based on the information found on the Missouri county websites that provide local bond and tax election information. This is not the case for all counties in Missouri, which does not have a central school bond and election database.
  3. New Jersey School Boards Association, "Voters Reject Most School Budgets," April 22, 2010
  4. New York school budget election results