three happy middle aged white dudes
Madison Local Schools Supt. Rob Peterson (left) and Treasurer Bradd Stevens (right) celebrate the news that the district's operating levy passed during a meeting at the Richland County Board of Elections Friday.


The Richland County Board of Elections met on Nov. 29 to certify the Madison Local Schools levy recount. The official results of 3,673 for the tax levy and 3,640 against the tax levy were verified from the recount.

MADISON — Voters in the Madison Local school district have passed the first new operating levy since 1997.

The five-year, 7.5 mill levy passed 3,673 to 3,640, according to final, official vote totals from the Richland County Board of Elections. 

Elections director Matt Finfgeld announced the results during meeting Friday, when the board met to certify the results of the Nov. 7 election.

With just 50.23 percent of ballots in favor, Madison’s levy will require an official recount. Nevertheless, Supt. Rob Peterson said he was relieved by the results. 

“I’m so proud of the Madison community and everybody that put so much time into this — our levy committee, our staff — everybody did a great job,” Peterson said.

“For all the people who voted yes and supported it, I just say a huge thank you. There was a lot at stake with this and we’re all very appreciative of the sacrifice that everybody’s making.”

Why didn’t we know the results earlier?

At the end of night on Nov. 7, preliminary counts had Madison’s levy passing by 11 votes. The final results came after an additional 100 votes were added to the board’s unofficial Election Night tally.

Those 100 ballots included provisional ballots, which had to be verified and certified after Election Day, and absentee ballots that were mailed in time and arrived within four days after Election Day. 

All of the 100 ballots were certified by the board and met the requirements to be counted under Ohio law.

Peterson said there were “a lot of people with a lot of anxiety” leading up to Friday’s certification.

“There was a lot at stake for this, some sleepless nights. It just weighed heavy on everybody’s mind for every waking minute,” he said.

Bradd Stevens agreed. The district’s treasurer reacted with a cheer and a fist pump when the results were announced. 

“It’s been a very stressful week,” he said. “We’ve been on pins and needles.”

Stevens said he had two “extremely different” financial forecasts to share with the school board later this month — one for if the levy passed and another if it failed.

District administrators previously stated that if the levy didn’t pass, the district would have had to endure massive cuts, including slashed bussing services and closing an elementary school.

District administrators and the board met Tuesday to discuss the possibility putting both an income tax and a property tax on the ballot in the spring if the levy didn’t pass.

“We had to plan in case today’s results didn’t come out the way we had hoped,” Peterson said. “Fortunately, they did.”

The superintendent said the district will still have tighten its belt, but its financial outlook is much brighter than before.

“We’re going to have to make some reductions and expenditures moving forward a little bit,” he said. “But we should be pretty solid financially for the near future.”

“We won’t have any need to put anything on the ballot in the spring.”

Board member Amy Walker said she was relieved.

“It’s been quite stressful and we’re happy that we don’t have to put the community through any more. It’s a good feeling.”

The Richland County Board of Elections is required by law to recount any election results where the results differ by half a percent or less, according to Finfgeld. 

“Our Board met this afternoon and certified the Official results of the Nov. 7, 2023 General Election,” Finfgeld said. “Our Board authorized us to count 454 Provisional ballots, 123 Absentee ballots that were postmarked by November 6 and received by mail on or before Nov. 13, and one curbside ballot from Election Day.”

“This brought our total to 41,296 ballots cast for a turnout of 50.43%. The Madison levy is within the .50% threshold for a recount.”

The board will conduct its official recount on Nov. 27 at 8:30 a.m. and certify the results of the recount on Nov. 29.

Staff reporter at Richland Source since 2019. I focus on education, housing and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. Got a tip? Email me at