Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


The Adoption and Execution of Successful Levy Campaign Strategies in Districts with Low Voter Support

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Paul Johnson (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Lisa Marie Gruenhagen (Other)

Third Advisor

James Fritz (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Christy Galletta Horner (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Kristina LaVenia (Committee Member)


Passing an operating levy campaign for additional revenue in the State of Ohio is an extremely challenging task for school districts. Ohio is the only state that freezes its local property taxes at the amount approved by the voters with no increases for inflation. As a result, school districts in Ohio are continually seeking voter support for their levy campaigns to acquire the revenue they need to give their students an adequate education. While the focus of this study was to identify campaign strategies that were successful in districts with low voter support, it cannot be concluded these same campaign strategies will be successful with any school district seeking to pass a school levy.

Five Ohio superintendents, from districts identified characterized with low voter support, were interviewed for this study. During these interviews, several campaign strategies were discussed based on the existing literature, and other campaign strategies emerged. The campaign strategies used during these successful levy campaigns included: utilizing voter modeling, targeting specific voters, creating urgency, careful campaign planning, engaging the community, positive messaging, canvassing, reaching out to absentee voters, motivating voters the weekend before the election (getting out the vote), utilizing social media, hiring a campaign consultant, being committed to the campaign, instilling pride in the school district, and developing trust with the community and the school district.

There are several leadership strategies that superintendents should consider while leading a levy campaign: consistently communicating with their levy committee and their constituents; highlighting the accomplishments of their district; cultivating and maintaining personal relationships with their community; and enacting distributive leadership, which includes finding the most talented people to work on the levy campaign and allowing them to fulfill a meaningful role during the campaign.