Worthington, Ohio, City Schools will be asking voters for more money this fall for renovations and to fund daily operations.
The Worthington Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to put two separate issues on the November ballot:
- A bond issue for 2.58 mills over 30 years, which would raise $89 million and cost about $90 per $100,000 of property value every year. Because some debt will be rolling off, Treasurer Jeff McCuen said last month that he believes the collection will probably be closer to 2.25 mills, or around $79 per $100,000 of property value.
- An operating levy to be phased in over four years, starting at 2.9 mills in 2018, or $101 per $100,000 of property value. The tax would increase by 2 mills each of the next three years, or about $70 per $100,000 of value, until it tops out in 2021 at 8.9 mills, or $311 per $100,000. The district raises about $2 million with each mill, McCuen said.
District property owners currently pay the school district $1,428 per $100,000 of value.
When the issues were placed before the board for a vote and no one spoke during the usual discussion period, board President Julie Keegan gave a little laugh.
"It seems funny to not have any discussion, but we'd like to say, for anybody just tuning in now, we have had so much discussion that at this point we feel we are ready to go ahead and certify this for the ballot," she said.
At the board meeting last month, McCuen said that Worthington schools is currently spending less than it takes in. But the district is projected to go into the red later this year, and the deficit spending is expected to rise to $11.3 million a year by 2020.
He pointed out that the district hasn't sought a tax issue in six years. In that time, more than 1,000 new students have enrolled and another 46 staff members were hired to serve them. Another 800 students are predicted to show up in the next decade.
"We're growing by about $6 million a year in expenses because of the size of the district," he said.
At the same time, the enrollment increase has meant that the district's school buildings are over capacity. To alleviate crowding, a facilities commission has recommended a two-part construction plan, including moving the sixth-graders to the middle schools.
About $48 million of the bond issue would be spent on a significant reconstruction of Perry and Worthingway middle schools. Changes at the other two middle schools would cost about $2.5 million each. About $1 million would go to shore up Thomas Worthington High School until it can be addressed in the next phase.
The rest of the bond money would go to major purchases, such as replacement of buses, kitchen equipment and computer servers.