CW levy set for the ballot

Voters in the Canal Winchester school district will see a levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

During the July 21 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting, the board voted to take the final step in placing an 8.9-mill operating levy back on the ballot by approving a resolution to proceed and giving a parent-led drive the final go ahead to start knocking on doors, set up signs, and deliver campaign literature.

"We’ve had three levies fail before, but the need doesn’t ever go away," said Assistant Superintendent Barb Harrison.

"Our schools need it," said Melissa Childs, who is co-chair of the levy campaign along with Jennifer Nack. "We need it to sustain what we have. We’re not an extravagant district. We just need to sustain what we have. We’ve already been planning, but held off on some things until the board made their final decision on the levy. We’re taking a different approach with the campaign with more parent and community involvement. Our main thing is to get people registered to vote and get out the facts that dispel rumors."

If approved, the levy would generate $3.7 million in additional funds for the cash-strapped district and cost an additional $272 per $100,000 of property valuation. Treasurer Joyce Boyer previously reported the property value used to calculate taxes is the appraised value determined by the county auditor’s office and is the amount listed on the tax statement for each individually-owned property.

Collection of the 8.9 mill levy would not begin until January 2009. While additional revenue would help stem the tide of red ink and keep the district in the black, it would take a double digit levy to fully restore the district. Seven years have passed since voters last approved new operating money, although, on average, 211 students are added to district rolls every year.

A 4.9 mill operating levy was turned down by voters at the polls in 2006, followed by the defeat of a 7.9 mill levy in November 2007 and an 8.9 mill levy in March of this year. Sweeping cuts-such as eliminating high school busing, doubling pay-to-participate fees to $140, slashing supply and equipment accounts by 20 percent, cutting field trips, eliminating professional development training for teachers except for opportunities funded by grants, and reducing projected certified and classified positions-were made in an effort to reduce costs and balance the budget.

Consolidated bus stops will become a permanent way of life for kindergarten through eighth grade students throughout the 2008-09 school year.

The reductions represent approximately $1.8 million in additional cuts above the $1.7 million in budget adjustments made since August 2007. The list also includes reductions in gifted services, extended service days, and textbook purchases and the Canal Winchester Joint Recreational District is now billed for the use of district’s fields and facilities.

The gap between passage and failure continues to narrow with each ballot attempt. Following the March election, unofficial Franklin County results showed the levy passing with 2,089 for and 1,963 against. However, it was a much different picture in Fairfield County with unofficial results tallying 612 for and 884 against bringing the overall count to 2,847 against and 2,701 for the operating levy.

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