Pickerington schools on ballot

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For the eighth consecutive election Pickerington Local Schools will have an issue on the ballot.

 

On March 4 voters will decide whether or not to renew a 7.9 mill levy that expires in December 2008. The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home around $242 a year.

Resident Lisa DeGeeter, who has two sons in the district and served on past levy committees, asked the Pickerington Board of Education at its Dec. 10 meeting to consider giving the voters "an election cycle off for good behavior."

"Ever hear of ‘compassion fatigue’?" DeGeeter asked the board. "People can’t continue to hear the same message over and over. A more apt term would be ‘compassion exhaust.’"

Board member Gail Oakes said that voters know that this levy will need renewed before the end of 2008.  Placing the issue on the spring ballot is the more compassionate choice rather than waiting until November.

The board voted unanimously to make the "renewal" of the levy "continuing."  This means that, if voters approve the issue, it will not return to the ballot and there will be no new taxes.

The 5 mill levy that passed in November was also a continuing levy, therefore it will not return to the ballot. It, however, was a replacement levy which raised taxes.

The benefit of a continuing levy is that the district will not have to return to the ballot to keep money upon which they depend.  In the case of the current levy, the schools stand to lose $7.1 million if the levy does not pass. That equates to approximately 12 percent of the district’s annual budget.

To put the loss in perspective, Oakes said people should consider what it would mean to lose 12 percent of their annual income. They would not be able to dine in restaurants or take their children to the movies.

Board President Dr. Jim Brink said that, if the levy does not pass, that the district would need to make deep cuts.  

"Cutting all athletics would still not be enough," said Brink.

Board member Wes Monhollen disagreed with discussing cuts, although he said that when the levy was approved five years ago it was after the board discussed cutting athletics.

Board member Lori Sanders said  Pickerington voters have a history of not passing levies on the first try and the issue needs to pass.

Coincidentally before discussing the need for the levy, a representative from Auditor of State Mary Taylor’s office presented the district with an award for excellence in financial reporting.

Fewer that 5 percent of government entities throughout Ohio receive the award titled "Making Tax Dollars Count."

The city of Pickerington was also presented this award.

The next school board meeting will be held Dec. 17 at Pickerington Central High School.

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