CCS votes to postpone levy request

Jul 3, 2012

The Columbus city school board voted last night to postpone a proposed tax levy and bond issue until sometime in 2013. Alison Holm has more.

On a vote of 5 to 2, the board agreed to accept an outside advisory groups recommendation to postpone putting off a tax issue originally projected for this fall’s ballot until sometime in 2013. Board member Gary Baker voted against the recommendation, arguing that the district should take advantage of the big turnout projected for the presidential election this fall – a strategy he says was successful in 2004 and 2008. Board member Mike Wiles also voted against the recommendation after failing to get support for a proposal to postponethe operating levy, but move ahead with a construction bond issue this fall. He says he agrees with the advisory group’s belief that the district will be able to put together a more detailed case for the operating levy with more preparation. But he thinks the district should move quickly to capture good bond rates.

MW:It's gonna cost us two and a half percent minimum for increasing construction costs by waiting year. And the interest rates could quadruple in that year. And we'd just cost taxpayers a ton of money that we don't need to cost them.

Board president Carol Perkins voted to postpone the tax issue, but agreed with concerns that putting off the levy gives the district a smaller window of time to gain voter approval.

CP: It's a risk. All of it is a risk. We could lose in November, as well. We really need to be able to get to the heart of this community. but I think that each and every time that we go to the ballot - regardless -- it's risky. We've seen it happen with other districts. They thought that all of their stars were aligned, and had to return again -- and in some cases -- again.  

Superintendent Gene Harris refused to speculate whether recent allegations about attendance record manipulation could have hampered efforts to pass the tax issues this fall. She does say that the district could use more time to prepare a more detailed presentation for the public about three proposals the district wants to focus on.

GH: ...and those three ideas were: the expansion of pre-schools, and innovation fund that would pair low performing schools with schools that were higher performing, and then a principal leadership program that we are already starting with the Ohio Statwe University, but that we want to extend. So the committees are meeting to help us to flesh out further those ideas.

Harris says district officials is already lining up meetings to develop those proposals and could start work as early as next week.