Town meeting addresses school levy

When the Reynoldsburg City School Board of Education members held their first town hall meeting Oct. 23 regarding the 6.9 mill operating levy on the ballot this week, it seemed like the entire city was in attendance.

Every parking space at the Reynoldsburg VFW Post was taken and the banquet hall was a standing room only crowd.

Then after the musical entertainment, which was provided by a local elementary school choir, was over and the meeting was slated to begin, most of the crowd dispersed.

"It’s a bit disappointing that more people didn’t stay, but I believe that they are all well informed about this operating levy," Superintendent Stephen Dackin said.

Those who remained had the opportunity to personally discuss Issue 80 with the district officials and state their concerns regarding it.

"You’re asking for more money when I can barely make ends meet," resident John Burtyk said.

Burtyk and his child live within the district’s boundaries but his son, who is a special needs student, does not attend any Reynoldsburg City School.

The board members said they know that times are tough financially, but passing Issue 80 is necessary to maintain current operating levels. Without voter support and approval, the district is facing a $7 million budget deficit in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011.

According to Dackin, the district would have no other option but to make cuts with a deficit that large.

It has been more than 10 years since the district put an operating levy on the ballot.

"My youngest was in kindergarten at Taylor Road Elementary when the last operating levy was approved and now she’s a senior in high school," Dackin said.
"I think that speaks volumes on how the district manages money."

He added they have exhausted every avenue of costs with the money generated from the 1997 operating levy, but with the addition of three new buildings in that time frame, along with the opening of a second high school and new elementary school in 2010, it was time to ask for the passage of a new one.

Treasurer Mitchell Biederman said if approved, the 6.9 mill operating levy would generate $5.3 million annually and keep the district financially solvent through 2011, with the outside chance of 2012.

During the town meeting, there was confusion among the residents as to why the district could not use some of the funds generated from the 4.4 mill bond issue that was voter approved in March to help pay for operational services.

"Bond issues are used to build buildings and, by law, can only be used for new construction," Dackin explained.

Operating dollars are used to pay for teacher’s salaries and benefits, equipment, textbooks, transportation and utilities, he said.

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