By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Board of Education is asking voters to renew the district’s existing, 5-year, 6.68 mill operating levy with no tax increase on Nov. 5.
The current operating levy will expire on Dec. 31, 2019. According to Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden, if the levy is not renewed the district will lose $2.8 million in 2020 and $5.6 million annually starting in 2021.
According to district officials, approval of the levy, which will appear on the ballot as Issue 7, would enable the district to maintain current operations including staff levels, programs, activities, and student opportunities. Levy approval would ensure operating funds are available for day-to-day school operations such as staffing, technology, utilities, supplies, and safety and security.
On Sept. 23, the levy received the endorsement of Groveport City Council as council and Mayor Lance Westcamp unanimously approved a motion to support passage of the levy.
Ogden said if the levy is not renewed the “consequences could be severe” with potential cuts and reductions.
“We would have to find ways to cover this loss of revenue if the levy fails,” said Ogden. “We want to protect what we value.”
If the levy is rejected by the voters, the school board will meet after the election to consider what possible cuts could be made and also decide whether or not to place an operating levy on the March ballot. If the levy passes, no cuts would be necessary.
Ogden presented the board with a list of possible cuts for consideration if the levy fails. The board would have to decide if and when to institute any proposed cuts, either at mid-year of the present school year or at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. The proposed $6.2 million in cuts under board consideration if the levy fails include programs and services not required by state law or regulations, which include:
•Academic programs, $4.1 million: art, music, band, physical education for grades K-8, gifted program, and tightening up special education to federal guidelines.
•Clubs, athletics, and miscellaneous services, $2.1 million: Security staff for grades 6-12, K-5 SIC staff, various clubs, athletics, and busing. (Busing would be cut to the state minimum, which means no high school busing and K-8 busing only for students living two miles or more from school. No busing cuts could be made mid-school year, but could be made at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year if the board decides to do so.)
“We consider everything on this list to be important and essential in providing kids the education they deserve,” Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner recently said. “We do not want this list of possible cuts to be seen as a threat. We want people to see we are being honest and that we cannot continue to give the same level of service if the levy fails. The district would not be the same if the levy fails. We need to maintain what we have and to do so we need to keep the current level of funding we are receiving.”