Groveport Madison to place levy on ballot; also weapons detection system approved


By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport Editor

The Groveport Madison Board of Education voted 4-1 to place a 6.68 mill continuing operating levy on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Board member Kathleen Walsh voted against the measure.

“I agreed with our public participant, Mr. Lee, that we (the district, the board, and the administration) need to use common sense and have a road map for the district,” said Walsh. “The district must commit to have a written 10-15-year strategic plan with goals and how the district will accomplish those goals. Furthermore, I added that I have issues asking for taxpayer money when our district’s curriculum includes CRT/Implicit Bias training. CRT/Implicit Biased Training classes divide members of our community and need to be eliminated from our curriculum.”

At the meeting, Board President LaToya Dowdell-Burger replied to this statement that, “I know that during our approval of our curriculum and our coursework course study, the study confirms that we were not providing any CRT…”

When asked if a continuing levy is essentially a permanent levy since it does not have a fixed term, Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said, “While there are differences in the legal terminology, it is essentially a permanent levy.”

Groveport Madison Treasurer Felicia Drummey said the levy would be a “no new taxes” renewal of the existing levy and that its passage is “crucial to get the financial support to maintain our programming for our students.”

The district hasn’t received any new money since the expiring 6.68 mill current expense levy was first approved by voters in 2014. That “no new taxes” levy was renewed by 67 percent of voters in 2019.

If the levy is approved in November, the district would receive half the funds it generates in 2025 and the remainder in 2026.

District officials said inflation is causing the district’s expenses to outpace flat revenues.

“The annual cost of the services we’re providing to students is greater than the revenue received,” said Drummey.

According to the five year forecast, this revenue gap could grow to $4.8 million next year and $9 million the following year.

In fiscal year 2023, the five year forecast shows that expenditures are expected to be greater than revenue by $1 million. By fiscal year 2027, expenditures are projected to be greater than revenue by $18.2 million. The district would need to cut its fiscal year 2027 projected expenses by 16.2 percent to balance its budget without additional revenue. The district’s cash balance is positive at year‐end in fiscal year 2023 and is projected to worsen by fiscal year 2027. A worsening cash balance can erode the district’s financial stability over time.

To ensure the district has the necessary resources to keep up its services to students and provide additional safety measures, she said the district needs to close the revenue gap, which includes: spending reductions, renewing the expiring levy, and passing a new additional levy – or a combination of these actions.

When asked if there are there plans to consider an additional levy in 2024 on top of the one on the November 2023 ballot, Warner said, “There’s nothing definite about anything beyond the fall levy renewal. The big uncertainty is whether the state will fully fund the school funding formula. If they don’t, there’s a strong likelihood that we would need to request additional funds through another operating levy.”

Drummey said the board could consider $4 million to $6 million in spending reductions to balance the operating budget, depending on the board’s comfort level in reducing services.

The board made some cost reductions on May 10 by suspending five administrative contracts. The suspended positions are executive director of human resources; director of secondary education; director of teaching and learning and elementary education; high school athletic director; and progress book specialist. District officials also will not fill open positions in the treasurer and enrollment offices.

In a letter to district staff, Superintendent Jamie Grube said the district is “facing a significant financial shortfall” that required a review of cost saving measures. District officials are still reviewing other potential cost reductions and restructuring plans.

According the district’s most recent five year forecast released, 42 percent of its total revenue comes from property taxes, 39 percent from state funding, and about 20 percent from other sources Salaries make up 52 percent of expenditures, benefits are 23 percent, purchased services are 17 percent, and supplies/materials are 3.5 percent.

According to Drummey and the five year forecast, projected revenue is expected to increase 3.2 percent annually or $2.4 million through 2027. Projected expenditures are expected to increase 9.94 percent annually or $7.4 million through 2027. The revenue increase is driven by the state funding formula and property valuation adjustment due to inflation and new construction. The expenditures increase is driven by growing enrollment that requires staffing, transportation, and safety plans.

Weapons detection system approved

The Groveport Madison Board of Education approved a contract for the leasing of weapon detection systems.

The action was taken to improve safety for students and staff due to incidents of violence and other issues that have taken place in the high school.

“We are leasing the system through Stone Security, a vendor that’s part of a national purchasing consortium,” said Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner. “The total cost will be $644,259 paid over the course of four years.”

Warner said the high school will get five of the weapon detection systems and the Cruiser Accel location (at 4500 S. Hamilton Road) will get one. He said they will be installed at the high school and Cruiser Accel this summer.

“The evolve weapon detection systems are walk-through systems,” said Warner. “Their software platform enables the system to spot threats while ignoring harmless personal items. It uses real-time image-aided alarms to indicate precisely where the potential threat is detected on the person as they pass through the sensors.”

The weapons detection system is part of the long and short term steps the district is taking to enhance safety and security for its students and staff. Earlier this year the board approved the district’s Comprehensive Safety Plan.



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