Gahanna Schools Asking For 6.8-Mill Levy
GAHANNA, Ohio—The Gahanna-Jefferson Schools will ask voters to approve a 6.8-mill operating levy on November 2. The district says the levy, on the ballot as “Issue 5,“ will cost the average Gahanna homeowner about 17-dollars per month, for each 100-thousand dollars the home is worth. Each year, it will generate about $10 million for the district.
The levy will help schools like Chapelfield Elementary. That’s where 5-year-old Delaney Ray just started kindergarten. She gets to ride the bus to school and, so far, she says it’s a lot of fun.
Delaney’s mom, Heather, is the co-president of the Chapelfield PTO. She remembers when the last levy passed in 2006 and she thinks the district has been very frugal with the money.
“Originally, they told us it was going to last for three years,“ says Heather. “They made it last for four years.“
Heather is worried, if the levy fails, the size of her daughter’s classes will balloon and Delaney won’t get the individualized attention from teachers that she believes is so vital to a good education.
The Gahanna Schools last asked for a levy in May 2010. Voters turned down the 9-mill issue. This time, the district is asking for 6.8-mills and a district spokesperson says the Board of Education hopes that will be more affordable for taxpayers.
In the past two years, the Board has made $5 million in budget cuts. That included the elimination of 16 teachers, 12 aides and a dozen support staff. Administrators claim they’ll have to trim another $6 million for the next school year if this levy doesn’t pass. Those cuts could include eliminating more staff, reducing teaching supplies and cutting programming for the 2011-2012 academic year. A pay-to-participate plan is being considered in any case.
“I don’t think they need that much more money, myself,“ says Steve McFarland who lives across the street from Chapelfield Elementary. He says he sees a lot of nearly-empty buses leaving the parking lot and thinks the district could cut back on transportation costs. He thinks all school districts are wasteful.
When asked directly, McFarland says he’s not likely to support the levy.
“Oh, I don’t know. I’d probably vote no,“ he says. His wife says she doesn’t vote.
The district says busing would, indeed, be on the chopping block if the levy fails.
“I don’t really know how they’re spending their money, but I don’t see why people would deny schools money,“ says Staci Sinkway, a Gahanna resident getting ready for a move to California.