COLUMBIA TWP. — Renewal levies are the continuous funding streams that keep a school district afloat, and Tuesday’s dual wins at the polls for Columbia Schools will allow the district to continue to operate at a high level, said school officials.
The levies, Issues 2 and 3, were about sustaining up-to-date technology, co-curricular programs and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Voters sent a message of district approval by passing both issues.
According to unofficial election results, Issue 2, a 7.53-mill, five-year levy, won with 1,048 votes to 555 votes, or 65 percent to 35 percent. Issue 3, a 5.50-mill, five-year levy, won with 1,087 votes to 555 votes, or 68 percent to 32 percent.
Combined, both renewals account for 25 percent of the district’s general fund and go toward day-to-day operating costs, such as curriculum and the salaries of teachers and classified staff.
“So, it was big that we got this passed and now we know for the next five years our forecast looks good and we can continue to educate our kids,” Superintendent Graig Bansek said.
With so much on the line, Bansek said a group of about 30 people gathered to put on a campaign, never taking for granted that voters would automatically pass each issue.
“You treat a renewal like it is new money,” he said following a gathering at Bootlegger’s Grille on Royalton Road. “You get the word out so voters understand what you are doing. But more importantly, you have to develop a track record and they have to believe in what you are doing. When you say you are fiscally responsible, they have to believe it.”
With vote totals at 65 and
68 percent respectively, Bansek said he is ecstatic about the growing community support for Columbia Schools. The wins were some of the biggest in recent years.
“To me, this is a good indication of the job the district is doing. Residents believe in us,” he said.
This is the third renewal for Issue 2, originally passed in 2003, and the first renewal for Issue 3, originally passed in 2013.