“Why should I vote YES?”
The March 15th vote is a way to vote for whether or not you want our school district to continue to ensure the academic excellence and the opportunities for which Olentangy has been know. A NO vote could result in a district that looks far different. If the ballot issue does not pass in March, then the school board will need to determine not only when to return to voters, but how to manage the current and future overcrowding in our schools. Options include increasing class size, modular classrooms, open lunch, and converting library space to classroom space. Furthermore, Superintendent Raiff has stated, "In the event of a levy failure, all programs not considered state mandates are potential targets for cuts. Everything from busing, to gifted services, to extracurricular activities, to academic offerings will have to be prioritized and evaluated to see if it will be something we will be able to afford and continue to offer."
“What is a bond issue, an operating levy and a permanent improvement levy?”
- A bond issue is a property tax used to provide funds for school facilities. Bond dollars pay for the construction of new buildings, buses and technology. Money collected from a bond issue cannot be used for operations.
- An operating levy is a property tax used to pay day-to-day operating expenses in a school district. Operating levy dollars pay for expenses such as personnel, utilities, and classroom supplies.
- Permanent improvement levies are funds that will be used exclusively to maintain and improve buildings, property and equipment.
- Bonds, operating levies, and permanent improvement levies are taxed in terms of “mills”.
“What is a mill?”
- A mill is a fraction (1/1000th) of the community’s total property value.
- In more complicated terms, effective 2013, the state of Ohio no longer subsidizes local levies with a 12.5% rollback for new millage. Therefore, for this ballot issue, one mill represents $35.00 in annual residential school property taxes for every $100,000 of home valuation, as determined by the County Auditor. For all millage approved in Olentangy prior to 2013, millage will remain at $30.62 in annual residential school property taxes for every $100,000 of home valuation, as determined by the County Auditor.
“Did the district explore alternatives to building a fourth high school?”
Yes, the district has thoroughly researched other options over the past five years with the help of Project 2020 and the Facilities Committee. Both Project 2020 and the Facilities Committee are made up of community volunteers. Starting in 2010, Project 2020 spent a significant amount of time researching various options and produced 12 high school enrollment solutions.
Several of those possible solutions were implemented, such as offering classes at the Delaware branch of Columbus State, utilizing space outside of the three buildings by leasing the Olentangy Academy building, having high school teachers “travel” from room to room so classroom space is fully utilized, increasing lunch room seating, etc. These changes have worked well to this point.
However, given the projected continued enrollment growth, the district determined something else needed to be done. In February 2015, the district passed Project 2020’s findings along to the Facilities Committee to analyze next steps. After extensive research and analysis, the committee presented options to the school board on August 18th. After much deliberation, the school board determined that given the anticipated high school enrollment over the next 40 years and the interest in continuing to provide the same experience and opportunities that current students receive, a fourth high school should be placed on the ballot.
The Facilities Committee’s August 18th report to the school board, which includes Project 2020’s 12 options along with the Facilities Committee’s analysis, can be found here.
“How does no-additional millage bond issue work?”
- This bond issue will be listed on the ballot as being for $79.6 million. The district is required by law to use ballot language as if it will be collected as a traditional bond. However, due to enrollment growth, our district is allowed to provide the bond to taxpayers at no additional millage.
- This plan addresses growth while keeping our tax rates low. Current residents should see NO increase in their tax rate for school bonds, which results in future residents paying more than they would have under a “traditional” debt structure.
- Structuring the bond debt in this fiscally responsible manner creates a situation in which future residents pay more of their fair share. Those already living in the district will see a much lower millage than they would have under traditional debt funding.