By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester Local Schools will place a levy on the May 6 ballot.
The levy, if approved, would be a renewal of a $5.8 million, five-year substitute levy.
An emergency levy was first passed by voters in 2009 and renewed at a lower rate in 2011.
Family Engagement Coordinator Brigid Krueger said, since the last levy, the district has become more financially stable and the Canal Winchester Board of Education believes the five-year levy term is the best option given Canal Winchester’s five-year financial forecast.
The existing levy expires at the end of 2014 and, if renewed, will generate revenue at the present rate for its multi-year term. The substitute levy option also allows the district to collect income on new growth and retain a 12 percent state rollback for property owners.
“This is not new money. It’s a renewal,” said Superintendent James Sotlar. “We’ve been fiscally conservative in following our financial plan and in moving forward. That $5.8 million is desperately needed to keep the district moving forward. We’re not asking for more. We’re asking to renew the amount from 2011 and basically going back to 2009. We have two chances or three if there’s a special election (to pass the levy request).”
If Canal Winchester voters do not renew the $5.8 million levy in the spring and it expires at the end of the year, the district anticipates a $5.3 million negative cash balance in 2017. The negative balance would grow to $13.9 million the following fiscal year and the opportunity for the rollback would disappear.
“It’s very vital that the levy passes,” said Treasurer Joyce Boyer. “It is approximately 16 percent of the total general fund income. We can’t afford to lose that much money out of our general fund.”
Changes to school calendar
Sotlar reported on the district’s 2014-2015 calendar and changes made at the state level impacting school days.
He said traditional school districts and career/vocational centers were previously required to comply with a set number of instructional days per school year. Now, instead of a minimum number of days, districts must meet a minimum number of instructional hours for certain grade levels.
“The requirement for grades seven through 12 is 1,001 hours,” said Sotlar. “For grades one through six it is 910 hours.”
According to the present schedule, the district is more than 10 percent above the state minimum and plans to continue the same calendar schedule next year.
“We are well above the number of hours required by the state,” said Sotlar. “Starting with the 2014-15 school year, there will be no such thing as (a set number) calamity days. Everything will come off of your hours. We’re pretty much in a safe zone and will not have to worry about making up hours as we move forward. We have room now to think more cautiously and not worry about calamity days. You don’t have to worry about making up days, just hours (if the district drops below the state minimum).”