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Issues 2 and 3: Columbia Schools renewals

  • Columbia-jpg-2

    Kindergarten students attend class at Columbia Elementary School in November. The Columbia school district has a pair of renewal levies on the ballot May 8.



COLUMBIA STATION - When students walk in to the classrooms here, they have up-to-date technology, relevant textbooks, the arts, sports, STEM programs, and more.

Without Issues 2 and 3, the Columbia Schools will not be able to operate the way it does.

Issue 2
What it is: A 7.53-mill renewal levy
Duration: Five years
How much would it raise: $1.6 million
Purpose: To raise money for emergency requirements
Cost to homeowner: $263 per year for a $100,000 home

These renewal levies account for about one-fifth of the budget and go toward day-to-day operating costs, such as curriculum and the salaries of teachers and classified staff.

"The levies make up $2.6 million out of an $11 million operating budget," Superintendent Graig Bansek said. "With an $11 million budget, if you cut $2.6 million, there will be life-changing decisions."

If Issues 2 and 3 fail May 8, the district would go back to the voters in November, according to district Treasurer Patricia Eddy.

"If they don't pass in November, the levies fall off, and we lose them," she said. "That means possible changes and cuts. Something is going to have to change."

That hasn't been an issue in recent history.

"Hopefully, we don't have to get to that point," Bansek said. "We have a wonderful community that is supportive of our schools and understands that our schools are vital to the future of the community."

Issue 3
What it is: A 5.50-mill renewal levy
Duration: Five years
How much would it raise: $1.1 million
Purpose: To raise money for current expenses
Cost to homeowner: $192 per year for a $100,000 home

The district always has passed its levies within the calendar year that they need passed in, according to Eddy.

This is the third renewal for Issue 2, originally passed in 2003, and the first renewal for Issue 3, originally passed in 2013.

"We have a pretty good success rate, especially with renewals," Eddy said.

When Issue 3 originally was put on the ballot, it was the first time the district had asked for new operating money in a decade.

"Levies don't grow," Eddy said. "Expenses go up, but the money stays the same."

And if the levies do have to go back on the ballot in November, it just ends up costing the district more money.

"Every time an issue goes on the ballot, we are assessed a fee," Bansek said. "That comes out of our budget."

If the levies fail, the superintendent, treasurer and Board of Education would talk about cuts.

"With the amount of money we are talking, they would be significant cuts," Bansek said. "But hopefully, we don't have to worry. Myself, the treasurer and the Board of Education do a fantastic job of being fiscally responsible. In fact, our treasurer has received the Ohio Auditor of State award for the past few years."

And the community seems to recognize that responsibility.

"Our kids get a great education that prepares them for college and the workforce," Bansek said. "Our schools are the bedrock of our community. In order to have a great school system, we need the support of our community."

Additionally, the school system is the largest employer in Columbia Township. If the levies fail, it could be detrimental to the community and not just students and teachers.

"It's imperative we get these passed," Bansek said. "Without both, we would be in big trouble."

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