Reynoldsburg faces levy

Reynoldsburg City Schools plan to place an operating levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

At the July 15 Reynoldsburg Board of Education meeting, Treasurer Mitchell Biederman recommended a 6.9 mill operating levy to the board.

"We looked at every scenario possible and asking for 10, or more than 10, mills would be astronomical," said board member Chip Martin. "We looked at the smallest amount we could and 6.9 mills is it. We could have gone less and then come back on the ballot in two years."

The last year a new operating levy was on the Reynoldsburg ballot was 1997, and that was a 5.9 mill levy, which lasted the district a little over 10 years, but members do not believe even a 6.9 mill operating levy could sustain them that long this time.

"If the levy passed, we would get a partial collection right off the bat," said Biederman. "It could keep us at current operating levels for 2009, 2010, 2011 and the outside chance of 2012."

According to Biederman, the 6.9 mill operating levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home and additional $211.31 in taxes, or $17.60 per month.

"Absolutely I think this levy will pass," he said. "I think the voters know when they passed the bond issue in March that an operating levy might be on the ballot and they would be open to the idea because we have been open and forthright with them regarding this."

The board acknowledged the economy is in a bad place right now, but it is necessary to ask the community to approve the levy when it is put on the ballot.

This was the first request to approve the resolution of putting an operating levy on the ballot, and it is expected to be approved at the Aug. 19 meeting.

Reynoldsburg Reach report

When Reynoldsburg voters approved a 4.9 mill bond issue that would provide the district with $111 million ($55 million of those dollars coming from in-state funding) for school reconstruction and renovation, their big question was how the money would be spent.

The district created Reynoldsburg Reach, which is a group consisting of teachers, students and community members, and asked them to hold community meetings over a period of 60 days to discuss what they would like to see for the future of the district. The board also posed two of its own questions: Should there be one high school or two; and should there be a choice in academic programs or neighborhood schools?

Seven-hundred and fifty residents attended those 27 meetings and gave suggestions, which were compiled into the Reynoldsburg Reach Summary Report and submitted to the board for their own recommendations.

Based on the data, the Reynoldsburg community only wants one high school, and Reynoldsburg Schools Superintendent Stephen Dackin agreed with that recommendation.

"One community, one high school," he stated.

Trisha Moore, who headed Reynoldsburg Reach, said residents expressed concerns that two high school identities was widely believed to "be divisive and lead to inequalities."

She added many people believe that there could be unhealthy rivalries, socio-economic disparities; weaker extracurricular programs and fewer academic challenges students need to be competitive.    

Even though the majority is against an additional high school, they are intrigued by the idea of a "Small Schools" concept, which would create several specialized "schools," and would place ninth and 10th graders in a separate building from the 11th and 12th graders.

Also according to the Reynoldsburg Reach report, the participants like the idea of schools and academic programs of choice, but are unsure that the benefits outweigh the potential threats.

"The idea of programs of choice and schools is clearly desirable," said Moore.

However, many of the participants were concerned that if their child could pick a school to go to, there would be rivalries or stigmas between different groups of students if choice programs existed in Reynoldsburg.

Dackin said that Phase I of the Reynoldsburg Reach program is over, but Phase II will soon be underway (which will discuss the intermediate levels), and he suspects a Phase III will be needed also.  

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