A 5 mill operating levy will expire at the end of the year leaving the Pickerington Local School District scrambling to cover operating expenses unless voters support a levy in November.
At its Aug. 13 meeting, the Pickerington Board of Education approved the first step in a two-step process to place a levy on the November ballot by approving a resolution of necessity. After the county auditor reviews the resolution and assigns a value for millage, the issue will return to the school board, which will meet Aug. 20 at 8 a.m. to vote on a resolution of intention to be submitted to the board of elections.
The proposed issue would be a permanent levy.
Voters rejected a similar levy in May.
If the voters do not approve the levy, the district will lose $1.4 million for the remainder of this year and $2.8 million each following year said Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia.
"It is a struggle to put operating levies on the ballot that ask taxpayers to pay more," said board president Dr. James Brink. "As good as Dr. Mantia and the new staff are, they can’t be wizards and come up with $2.8 million. (If the levy doesn’t pass) things will have to happen that will result in some hurt."
Brink said he did not know what actions the district would be forced to take if the levy did not pass. He said Mantia has initiated an audit to help keep the district financially positive.
"The audit is important," Mantia said. The district will analyze the costs and benefits of its resources. "Spending has to be kept down."
"Education here is probably the most important thing but you don’t do it for nothing. It costs money," Brink said.
Board member Lori Sanders said that the original 5 mill levy and a 7.9 mill levy that will expire next year both lasted five years.
Mantia said the school system demonstrated "very good cost control. (The district) provided quality education but kept the costs down."
In Pickerington, one mill currently equates to approximately a million dollars for the district, said Cathy Olshefski who leads the levy campaign for the schools.
Welcome center planned
The district plans to create a welcome center for new students and their families.
Instead of enrolling their children at the schools they will attend, the parents would visit the annex of Ridgeview Junior High, Mantia said.
"As a district we need to understand who comes to our district and what their needs are," Mantia said.
The district will eventually move to online registration.
The welcome center would provide English as a second language students reading help before the school year begins. A person from the welcome center would stay with the ESL student until they became used to their new school, Mantia said.