Reynoldsburg Schools officials say passage of levy necessary
Reynoldsburg Schools officials are gearing up for a levy they say is necessary to pass to continue operations as they stand.
The May 4 ballot will ask voters for a 6.9-mill incremental levy to fund operations for the schools. The proposal starts at 6.9 mills and increases by 1 mill every year for three years, ending in a 9.9-mill permanent levy.
If passed, taxpayers would pay an additional $211 per year in the first year for every $100,000 in property value, with a $30 increase each year to $303 in the fourth year of collection.
City and state representatives, including Mayor Brad McCloud, attended the April 18 school board meeting to show their support of the upcoming levy.
"I am always skeptical of tax requests," Reynoldsburg City Council President William Hills said. "On this levy that's coming up, there clearly is a need."
State Representative Marian Harris agreed that education is fundamental to Reynoldsburg and that she wished the state could do more.
"There's absolutely no reason why anybody should not support this levy," she said.
Jan Hills, president of the Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce said the community cannot afford to lose the levy.
"It's time for us to invest in our community," she said.
After 15 years without an increase in local operating taxes, the district has made more than $20 million in cuts over the past five years and identified another $3 million for the next school year.
Cuts were previously made by eliminating art, music and physical education in grades K-6; reducing busing for elementary and middle schools; cutting busing for high school students; ending financial support of extra-curricular athletics and activities and reducing administrative, teaching, clerical and custodial staff.
Resident Robert Wall spoke to the board and said he went into the district's human resources department to do research to determine the amount of the cuts in personnel. He found 17 percent of staff was reduced.
"That's one out of every six," he said. "Those are big cuts. The community does really need to support this levy."
Superintendent Steve Dackin has drafted a letter to send to parents this week. The letter will also be posted on the district website for all to read about the state of affairs for the district.
"Making $20 million in reductions was not easy," Dackin said. "I cannot overstate the importance of this issue."
Should the levy pass, the district will be able to phase back in the arts, music and physical education in the elementary schools during the next two years, as well as restore busing and protect basic academic programs.
With failure of the levy, the district is looking at additional cuts that will reduce programs to below basics and could lead to loss of the schools to state control if those basics cannot be met, he said.
"It will take every resource for basics," Dackin said should the levy fail. "I know we can solve this together."
Board Treasurer Tammy Miller said it is essential for additional revenue through the operating levy.
"We do run a very efficient and frugal district," she said.