Voters in the Groveport Madison Local School District will consider a three year, 8.06 mill replacement operating levy when they go to the polls on Nov. 4.
"We know the nation’s current economic conditions are a factor," said levy co-chair Larry Ricchi. "But we’re hoping people understand how valuable and important education is to the community."
The proposed levy, known as Issue 77, would generate $6.4 million a year and, if approved, would replace the existing three year, 5.46 mill emergency renewal levy, which was first passed in 1997 and would expire Dec. 31, 2009. The higher millage of the proposed levy with an increase would generate nearly $1.9 million more per year than the existing levy. If the levy is approved, the district would begin collecting the funds it would generate in January 2009.
If approved by the voters, the 8.06 mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $247 a year in property taxes, which is about a $79 increase over the existing levy. The increase would be $6.64 per month.
According to Groveport Madison Treasurer Anthony Swartz, the existing levy was designed to generate $4.5 million annually for the district and originally assessed homeowners 9.5 mills, but that has decreased over the years as the existing 5.46 mills now generate the same amount of money because, as values drop, the millage changes to generate the same amount of revenue.
Swartz provided the following projections regarding the district’s finances:
•If the voters approve the 8.06 mill levy, the district’s finances would remain on the positive side of the accounting ledger for the next three years before facing an operating loss.
•If voters reject the 8.06 mill levy, the district would be in the hole by about $890,840 by fiscal year 2010.
Additional revenue from the proposed 8.06 mill levy would help the district deal with the increasing costs of operations as well as help offset the approximately $768,000 the district has to pay back to the state as a result of the state’s miscalculations of Groveport Madison’s share of state school funding.
What the levy would fund
"This levy will help pay for utility bills, salaries, educational materials, classroom technology, and tutoring," said Ricchi. "Big on educators’ wish list is technology."
Additionally, the district’s campaign literature states the levy would also help fund building maintenance, student transportation, and extra-curricular activities.
Ricchi said improved classroom technology allows teachers to share information among all the district’s buildings.
"It’s a big advantage for teachers to be able to share information. That way they can avoid doing the same labor, which is a waste of talent," said Ricchi. "Classroom technology also gives teachers more time to work with students one on one."
"We’ve started to make some real progress," continued Ricchi, who cited the district’s improvement on the State Report Card over the past four years from four indicators met to 14 this past year. "Once we get academic momentum I don’t want to see us lose it due to financial constraints."
Ricchi mentioned several approaches the district is embracing to improve academics.
"Teachers and staff are analyzing data. That way they can react, not to impressions, but to facts," said Ricchi. "It’s a business like approach, but the teachers aren’t being machines, they’re still interacting positively with the students."
Ricchi noted the district’s literacy programs are paying dividends.
"The literacy consultants immediately test new students and provide to the teachers a profile identifying problem areas a student may have. This way a teacher is better able to help a student," said Ricchi.
Tutoring programs as well have been a benefit to academic improvements, according to Ricchi, who stated, "Individual attention makes a huge difference."