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Groveport Madison levy vote nears
Voters will decide on the Groveport Madison Local Schools' levy at a special election on Aug. 7.
The district is requesting a substitute levy for the existing three year, $7.7 million levy that will expire on Dec. 31. The request is for a no new taxes continuing levy that, if approved, would not have to be renewed again. The new levy would generate $7.7 million annually.
Groveport City Council expressed its support for the levy by unanimously endorsing it at council's July 23 meeting following presentations by Groveport Madison Board of Education President Charlotte Barker and levy co-chair Libby Gray.
"Good schools help make a great city," Barker told city council.
Added Gray, "We need to give every student the opportunity to succeed."
Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp also endorsed the levy.
Groveport Madison Superintendent Scott McKenzie said approval of the levy would protect the district's existing funding with no tax increase and "prevent more than $8 million in devastating cuts to educational programs, classroom materials, staff and student services."
According to McKenzie, the district has made $5 million in cuts since 2009.
McKenzie said the proposed substitute levy would keep taxes as they are now for current property owners as if the original emergency levy was simply renewed.
"That means this levy, when passed, will not cost you any more than it does today," said McKenzie. "The current levy would be exchanged for a substitute levy without any additional taxes for current home and business owners. New homes or businesses built in the district would be taxed at the same rate as the current owners and the district would be able to see additional revenue from the new growth only."
According to Treasurer Tony Swartz, the district has lost $1.7 million in state funding cuts and another $1.3 million in property taxes due to delinquent collections because property owners have been unable to pay.
Cuts and reductions
District officials indicated that, if the levy is approved, some job cuts could be reinstated. The board would have to determine what other cuts may or may not be restored.
Earlier this year, the board approved $3.6 million in budget cuts for 2012-13 with an additional $4.5 million in reductions to kick in for 2013-14 if voters do not pass a levy this year.
The $3.6 million in reductions for the 2012-13 school year include:
•The elimination of busing for grades 9-12 (effective Jan. 1, 2013).
•Cuts to textbooks, technology and classroom materials.
•The elimination of 24 teaching and non-certified employee jobs.
•Substitute teacher requests will be decreased.
•Pay-to-participate fees for extracurricular programs were increased for 2012-13 to: $150 per each activity for high school fall, winter, or spring athletic sport and cheerleading; $100 per each activity for high school or junior high/middle school as follows - junior high/middle school athletics, junior high/middle school cheerleading; choir, Cruiserettes, marching/pep band, and theater/drama; $25 per each activity for high school or junior high/middle school as follows: student council, school newspaper, National Honor Society, mock trial, Spanish club, and yearbook. Students on the free and reduced lunch program will not be excused from paying the pay-to-participate fees. The previous fees were $75 per high school activity and $50 per junior high/middle school activity. These old fees did not include clubs.
Deputy Superintendent Bruce Hoover said that, if the district's levy does not pass in either August or November, the board would have to consider doubling the pay-to-participate fees in November for the remainder of 2012-13 to make up for the shortfall.
Reductions of $4.5 million for 2013-14 to be enacted if a levy is not approved this year include:
•elimination of all extracurricular activities;
•elimination of art and physical education programs; and
•elimination of more than 100 teaching and non-certified positions.
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