Olentangy has been off the ballot for 4 years. The district has made every effort to manage costs, despite continued enrollment growth. Olentangy is now, however, at the point that without additional funds, the quality of the educational experience the district provides will be at risk.
Two key reasons why the district is on the ballot March 17, 2020 are enrollment growth and lack of state funding.
Since the 2016 school issue, we have added 2,443 students to the district.
The Facilities Committee, a group of community volunteers with expertise in construction, architecture and technology, provided the school board with a report detailing options they reviewed to manage elementary and middle school overcrowding. According the Facilities Committee’s report, Olentangy’s elementary school enrollment is projected to increase by more than 2,286 students in the next 10 years, and middle school enrollment is projected to increase by more than 1,387 students in the next 10 years.
The Facilities Committee projects that without these additional school buildings, Olentangy School District will have on average 5 extra students in EVERY elementary school classroom and 6 extra students in EVERY middle school classroom within the next ten years.
The enrollment growth is also a key reason why the district needs additional operating funds. It’s important to keep in mind that it is fiscally responsible to place an operating levy on the ballot with these new school buildings to ensure that the operating needs of those schools will be met. In both Westerville and Dublin school districts, ballot issues were passed to build schools but did not include funds to operate them, which resulted in schools being built but not opened. The buildings sat idle until operating funds were approved.
In addition to growth, one of the reasons the district is requesting additional funding is due to the limited funding provided to Olentangy from the state of Ohio. Olentangy receives just $640 when calculated on a per pupil basis. The average school district in Ohio receives $5,000.
When compared on a per-pupil basis, not only does Olentangy receive far less in state funding than the average public school district, it receives less than half of the $1,376 in per-pupil state funding that non-public charter (aka private) schools receive.
The district and its supporters have been actively contacting legislators, encouraging community letter writing campaigns, and testifying for fair school funding during legislative hearings. The budget cycle is two years long and the most recent two-year biennial budget began on July 1, 2019. While the house and senate have responded favorably to the concept of a “fair funding” minimum to be what private schools receive, it has been vetoed from the budget by two governors, once in 2017 and again in 2019.
Given that the state considers Olentangy a wealthy school district, it is highly unlikely that failing a levy will encourage the state to give more money to the district. School districts with far less wealth have failed multiple levies and the state has not stepped in. In many cases, the consequences have negatively impacted the school district and community.
When compared on a per-pupil basis, not only does Olentangy receive far less in state funding than the average public school district, it receives less than half of the $1,376 in per-pupil state funding that private schools receive.
Since the 2016 school issue, Olentangy has added more than 2,400 students to the district.
The Facilities Committee projects that without these additional school buildings, Olentangy would have on average 5 extra students in EVERY elementary school classroom and 6 extra students in EVERY middle school classroom within ten years.
It may surprise you that new construction DOES NOT cover the school operating costs associated with the many students that come with new housing developments. The OLSD Facilities Committee projects enrollment will increase by more than 5,200 students during the next 10 years. It costs the district $11,007 to educate each student, yet taxes from new housing construction do not come close to cover the costs of educating them!