By Lori Smith
When voters head to the polls in November, they will be asked to decide on the fate of an operating levy for the Pickerington Public Library.
At the June 13 meeting of the Pickerington Board of Education, the board unanimously approved the library’s request to seek a renewal of the existing 10-year, .75 mill operating levy with an increase of .5 mills. Library Director Tony Howard told the board the total request would be 1.25 mills, which will generate approximately $1.48 million over 10 years for the day-to-day operating expenses of the library.
“We had to go back to why we initially needed a levy in the first place,” Howard said. “Our state funding today is less than what it was over 20 years ago.”
By lobbying legislators, the public libraries have gained a little more ground when it comes to state funding, he said, “But we’re not back to where we were. I don’t think we’ll ever get there.”
Since the Pickerington Public Library last put an operating levy on the ballot, they have seen a 67 percent increase in circulation, the number of reference questions have increased, the collection size has increased, and they offer three times as many programs, and they have opened a branch location, Howard said. He added they had 1,300 participants for a recent event, illustrating the huge demand for programming.
“We want to be able to continue to provide access to information,” he said. “This levy will make up approximately 57 percent of our operating budget.”
Board member Lori Sanders asked how traffic has been at the new branch location at
“We’re averaging a little more than 2,000 people coming through our doors each week, which is more than I expected,” Howard said.
Board member Michelle Waterhouse followed up by asking for numbers for visitors at both
locations, and Howard said there were about 174,000 patrons in total.
“That number is trending up,” he said. “Library visits since our original levy passed are up 16 percent.”
•Heard a presentation from the Teaching and Learning Department about instructional coaching, creating teams within grade levels, and the gifted program.
•Approved James “Bo” Hanson Jr. as the athletic administrator at Pickerington High School Central and Ridgeview STEM with a two-year contract. Superintendent Chris Briggs said Hanson hails from the Lakewood school district, and joked, “You’re coming in to a school with three state titles, so I don’t know where you’ll go from there.”
•Learned that the elementary school fees for 2018-19 will remain the same, ranging from $17 to $22, as will the middle school fees, ranging from $21-28. Gateway school fees will also remain the same and will be $16 to $21.
•Agreed to look into entering to a beverage contract with either Coke or Pepsi. “These aren’t as lucrative as they were in the past,” said Business Manager Vince Utterback. New legislation limits the products and the times they can be sold, Utterback said, so the contracts only generate approximately enough to pay for the district’s drug testing program.