Seven local school districts will be on the May ballot, with Tecumseh Local Schools seeking the largest of the levies to avoid state financial oversight.
Tecumseh will ask voters to approve a 12.37-mill levy that would raise $3.5 million a year for the district’s operating expenses. Voters have rejected eight requests for new money since 2004, including Nov. 2, and the district has cut its budget by about $7 million in that time.
With a projected $1.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2014, the district faces possible state oversight for financial decisions.
“We are trying to prevent state takeover and the possibility of losing programs that are near and dear to our community,” said Superintendent Brad Martin. “Once we lose these programs, the odds of us being able to bring them back are very slim.”
If the levy fails, possible cuts could include ROTC, vocational agriculture as well as eliminating art, music and gym at the elementary schools, Martin said. Full pay-to-play sports also are possible.
Clark-Shawnee will ask voters to approve a new operating levy that will help the district preserve programming, said Superintendent Gregg Morris.
“We’ve been cutting for two years now,” he said. “People are doing extra jobs; it’s already displaying itself in larger classrooms, and there will certainly be course offering restriction and even larger classrooms (if the levy fails). That’s sort of the unfortunate scenario that’s there now.”
Springfield City Schools will seek a 2.2-mill bond issue to be used for maintenance and improvements in the district. An expiring 2.43-mill levy means no increase in taxes if the issue is approved, said Superintendent David Estrop.
“What we’re asking is the voters not to increase their taxes … but to keep their tax levels where it is, just let us continue to have the same amount of money we’re collecting now,” he said.
The seven districts on the May 7 ballot are:
- Clark-Shawnee Local Schools, which will ask voters to approve a 10-year 7.59-mill levy for operating expenses. If approved, the levy would cost $232.44 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home and raise $2.5 million a year for the district.
- Springfield City School District, which will ask voters to approve a bond issue to raise $14 million over 12 years for maintenance and improvements for the district’s buildings. The 2.2-mill bond issue would not raise taxes if approved because a 2.43-mill tax issue will expire this year and would continue to cost $67.38 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
- Greenon Local Schools, which will ask voters to approve a combined bond issue and earned income tax to raise the local share and operating expenses for new school buildings in a funding partnership for construction costs with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The OFCC would pay $13.3 million of the cost of the project to build a new 7th through 12th grade building and renovate the existing middle school. The 38-year, 4.95-mill bond issue would raise $26 million for construction costs and cost $151.59 for the owner of a $100,000 home. The .05-percent income tax would cost $200 a year for every $40,000 of income.
- Tecumseh Local Schools, which will ask voters to approve a five-year 12.37-mill levy for operating expenses. If approved, they levy would cost $378.83 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home and raise $3.5 million a year for the district.
- Urbana City Schools, which will ask voters to renew a five-year, 9.75-mill operating levy that would not increase taxes. If approved, the levy would continue to cost $298.9 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home and would raise $2.4 million for the district.
- Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools, which will ask voters to approve a five-year renewal and increase tax levy for operating expenses. If approved, it would renew a 2.3-mill levy with a 5.85-mill increase for a total of 8.19 mills and would increase taxes by $179.16 for the owner of a $100,000 home. The levy would generate about $690,000 a year for the district. If it is not approved, it would lower taxes by $70.44 for the owner of a $100,000 home.
West Liberty-Salem Local Schools, which will ask voters to renew a one-percent income tax for current expenses. The three-year income tax would cost $400 a year for every $40,000 of income.