Canal Winchester school levy approved

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Voters approved Canal Winchester Schools’ $5.8 million, five-year substitute renewal levy on May 6, which provides 16 percent of the district’s operating budget.

The levy passed by 55 to 45 percent with 1,766 voters in favor and 1,460 against.

“I want to personally thank the community for their support of our schools and students,” said Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar.  “The passage of the renewal levy will keep us focused on our current path of excellence, progress and financial stability. Great schools and great community go hand-in-hand and this is an great day for both. Our schools are a great source of pride in the community and we will continue to find innovative ways to save taxpayer money while still striving for the excellent academic standards we have set for ourselves.”

Sotlar also thanked “our volunteers and staff, who were successful in getting the information out about the importance of this levy. Those efforts, without a doubt, made all the difference.”

Since it is not a new levy, school officials said the state will continue to pick-up 12.5 percent of a property owner’s school tax bill. In addition, by including the substitute language, Canal Winchester will also receive supplemental income from new development, both residential and commercial. Revenue from the substitute emergency levy renewal is earmarked for daily operations.

As a companion to the levy request, the district also adopted a three-point plan for financial stability and developed a “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” in its efforts to work with the community in achieving the goals of the three-point plan. According to organizers, the actions represent Canal Winchester’s pledge to save taxpayers money while ensuring students receive an excellent education.

The three-point plan establishes a cash balance policy to ensure financial stability  to maintain a modest cash reserve of one month’s annual expenditures. In order to curb inflationary personnel costs, the district will continue to watch hiring, keep staffing levels in line with student enrollment and review staff compensation.

The Canal Winchester Board of Education and administration said they are committed to breaking a cycle of levy requests by exploring, with community support, the concept of making an emergency levy permanent to ensure long term operating budget stability.

Over the past three years, the district reduced $3.7 million from its budget and is projected to save $226,000 in annual utility costs as a result of an energy efficiency program.

Messenger staff writer Linda Dillman contributed to this story.

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