Olentangy Schools sending new levy to ballot


Four years after its most recent measure, the Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) will return to the ballot in the spring with the hope of gaining additional financial support from the community. During its meeting last week, the Olentangy Schools Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to place a combined 4.25-mill levy on the March 19, 2024 ballot.

The resolution includes a 3-mill operating levy and a 1.25-mill permanent improvement levy to address the operational and facility maintenance needs of the district while also authorizing the board to seek the authority to issue up to $350 million in bonds. In a release announcing the approved resolution, the district said it won’t require any additional millage to be collected to meet future debt service payments.

Should the levy be approved, the district estimates annual collections of the combined levy would be $26.9 million. After reviewing the 2024 home values, Treasurer Ryan Jenkins estimates the levy would cost homeowners $148.75 annually for each $100,000 of the appraised value of their home.

“The key reason for the bond issue is that it encompasses the authority for the district to issue bonds for the construction of five additional Olentangy school buildings — three elementary schools (elementary 18, 19 and 20), a seventh middle school, and a fifth high school,” Jenkins said. “One of our district pillars is to be an exceptional value for a top-notch public education, and we are committed to being diligent stewards of our taxpayer dollars.”

He added, “There is also a direct need to protect and preserve our taxpayers’ investment in the assets owned by the community. This ballot issue has two additional parts. The first part of the ballot issue is for permanent improvement revenues to ensure safe and adequate facilities for students to learn and staff to work. This includes the maintenance, repairs, and upkeep of capital facilities, school buildings, parking lots, equipment, and other significant infrastructure. The second part is an operating levy, which will fund the day-to-day operations of the district and will address the increase in expenses due to enrollment growth across the district.”

Speaking on the need for a new levy, Superintendent Todd Meyer pointed to the continued growth within the district and noted enrollment projections forecast a 21% increase in students over the next 10 years. Meyer also said he is proud the district upheld its promise to the community in 2020 that Olentangy would stay off the ballot for at least the next three years.

“Olentangy is a destination district for families, and we continue to see new housing growth throughout our 95 square miles,” Meyer said. “This ballot issue is essential to continue to provide the necessary facilities for our students to learn and the individualized resources our students deserve. Our One Olentangy community has come together in support of our schools in the past, which has resulted in Olentangy being a recognized leader in K-12 education.”

Board President Kevin O’Brien added in the release, “The decision to place Olentangy Schools on the March ballot is not something the board takes lightly. This vote is a result of the transparent analysis and planning of our treasurer’s office, our operations team maintaining our current facilities and stretching the capacity of each school building, as well as mindfulness regarding our district budget.

“Olentangy continues to deliver strong academic performance, evidenced by our five-star overall rating by the Ohio Department of Education, and we deliver that performance in a fiscally responsible way in continuing to spend less per pupil than the state average and comparable districts. I hope our taxpayers understand the need for the levy and we can continue to make them proud of their investment in our schools.”

Board Vice President Brandon Lester said it’s a common thread among Olentangy parents and residents that the decision to move to the area was influenced by the level of schooling OLSD provides.

“Strong schools help to strengthen the community and allow it to prosper, which benefits all district residents,” Lester said. “By providing the next generation with an exceptional education rich in opportunities, we not only enrich their lives, but we also develop a group of lifelong learners who are purposeful, resilient, curious, kind, and ready to contribute positively to our community and society.”

If approved in March, the first collection of the levy would take place in 2025.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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