OLSD set to return to ballot


The Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) is set to return to the ballot next month with its latest levy to address the operational and facility maintenance needs in an ever-growing district.

Last November, the Olentangy Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution for a combined 4.25-mill levy that includes a 3.00-mill operating levy and a 1.25-mill permanent improvement levy. The resolution also authorizes the Olentangy Board of Education to seek the authority to issue up to $350 million in bonds to allow the district to address enrollment growth.

Speaking to the board in November, OLSD Treasurer Ryan Jenkins estimated annual collections of the combined levy would be $28.9 million. The bond issue will be collected at no additional millage while allowing for the construction of five new schools on land already owned by the district.

Those future schools include the district’s 18th elementary school, to be located on Bean Oller Road, a 19th elementary school adjacent to Berkshire Middle School, a fifth high school on Bunty Station Road, as well as a 20th elementary school and seventh middle school that do not yet have finalized sites.

Currently, “Elementary 20” and “Middle School 7” are tentatively slated to be constructed on Curve Road, north of Berlin High School.

In a release detailing the ballot measure, the district said it anticipates that should the levy fail, modular classrooms may be needed at up to nine elementary schools by the end of the 2026-27 school year.

“In addition, multiple middle and high school redistrictings may be needed to balance overcrowding,” the release further stated. “The ballot issue will help address the facility needs for the additional 5,000 students projected to enroll over the next ten years.”

OLSD was last on the ballot in 2020 with a three-pronged measure that included an operating levy of 7.4 mills, a permanent improvement levy of 0.5 mills, and a 30-year, $134.7 million bond issue. As part of the levy campaign, the district vowed to stay off the ballot for three years, a fulfilled promise that Superintendent Todd Meyer expressed great pride in keeping in November while noting the district couldn’t wait much longer to ask its communities for more.

“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.”

In reviewing the 2024 home values, Jenkins has estimated the levy would cost homeowners $148.75 annually for each $100,000 of their home’s appraised value. Should it pass, the first collection of the levy will be in 2025.

“We believe the data shows that Olentangy Schools continues to be an excellent education at an exceptional value,” Jenkins told the Gazette. “We are committed to being fiscally responsible with our taxpayer dollars by keeping costs low and maintaining one of the lowest costs per pupil in the state. Our advocacy efforts have resulted in this levy being the lowest operational levy ask of our taxpayers in 30 years.”

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

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