Nearly 900 gather for Reynoldsburg meeting to discuss school lev
The financial crisis of Reynoldsburg Schools drew about 900 people to the Reynoldsburg United Methodist Church Feb. 9 to discuss moving forward with a levy.
After a brief review of the financial crisis facing the district, everyone was asked to break into small groups of eight to 30 to discuss their best advice for the board about how to move forward with a levy request and how much to ask from voters.
The district finds itself in an $11 million shortfall. While Governor Ted Strickland's recent announcements about school funding have encouraged some, with the additional costs associated with the proposal, officials say the financial result is neutral for Reynoldsburg.
Two scenarios were offered by the board as a starting point for discussion, but the question was opened for any other ideas the community may have to offer.
Scenario one offered a 9.9 mil levy that will help the current crisis but still require about $4 million in cuts, including art, music and physical education for Kindergarten through grade 8.
Scenario two offered a 15.6 mil levy that will enable current cut proposals to be shelved but will not bring back previous cuts already made. Art, music and physical education will continue for Kindergarten through grade 8.
Each group sent one person to report their discussions - forming a line stretched back through the large sanctuary.
Several in attendance agreed it is necessary to ask for the higher 15.6 mil with a couple suggesting to go higher.
The board also began looking into a suggestion of requesting an emergency levy.
Superintendent Stephen Dackin said an emergency levy has a time frame such as three or five years, and is something will give the state and federal processes time to get into place.
Other common questions included clarification for the community of the difference between a levy and a bond issue.
Board member Mary Burcham explained that "a bond is the money used to build a building and a levy is the money used to run a building."
Many of the groups expressed concern that the community feels the board needs to improve communication. Suggestions were made for publicity to include details of how property values will fall if the levy fails, and for board members to be available for local neighborhood meetings to make certain the facts are out there.
Another request including posting a detailed copy of the budget on the Web site.
Ohio Representative Marian Harris (D-19), who was in attendance, said she has been holding meetings with all superintendents in her district, listening to concerns and hearing feedback about the governor's proposals.
Bob Martin of the Raider Store said he was happy a town hall meeting was held so residents could ask questions and offer opinions.
"Our future is only as bright as the kids we're putting out through our school system," he said.
All questions were requested to be written down so the board can address each individually.
Decisions about the levy must be made by Feb. 19 to be on the May ballot.
For anyone with questions, the board suggests either calling the office at (614) 501-1020 or e-mailing Superintendent Stephen Dackin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 17 at Hannah Ashton Middle School.
All questions submitted at the meeting will be answered on the Web site (www.reyn.org) by Feb. 13.
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