Delaware City Schools Board approves 8.35-mill emergency levy

By Glenn Battishill -

Voters in the Delaware City School District will have a levy to consider on Nov. 7.

The board of education approved an 8.35-mill emergency levy Monday night at its board meeting. If approved by voters, the levy will collect $6.2 million over five years. The board said the levy will cost $24 a month per $100,000 of valuation.

Delaware City Schools Superintendent Paul Craft detailed the levy for the board and said the emergency levy is necessary to keep the district from facing an $18 million deficit in three years. He said that the deficit is due in part to the state’s funding formula.

Craft explained that the state’s formula applies a cap to how much a district’s funding can grow based on how much funding was received from the year before. He said the district has grown by more than 240 students in the last two years, but has received no additional money from the state to accommodate the growth.

The story is difficult to explain to state legislators, Craft said, because Delaware County is one of only three counties in Ohio that has experienced student enrollment growth.

“We struggle with legislators hearing our story because it is a unique story,” Craft said “The gain caps are impacting us and Olentangy like they are impacting very few across the state. It’s a hard story for those few growing counties, like ours, to tell. I wouldn’t trade the dynamic community we live in and all the advantages for it but it certainly is a challenge from a funding perspective.”

Craft said Delaware City Schools is next to last in central Ohio when it comes to spending per pupil, spending $9,733 per student, well below the state average of $11,162. Craft noted that the Auditor of State has recommended numerous cuts to programs and positions to combat the deficit, but Craft said if the district went ahead with the cuts, they would only be spending $8,600 per student and would have increased class sizes district wide.

“This is not because we’ve been overspending,” Craft said. “We tried to hold off as long as we could on the levy and six years is about as long as you’ll find any district has gone.”

Craft reported the district’s last emergency levy was in 2011 and said the district only expected to be able to go three years without another emergency levy, but was able to make it six years without the levy.

The school district’s levy also has a tangible effect on home values in the district, Craft said. He explained that families will continue to move to Delaware if the school district continues to perform well, which increases home valuations throughout the city.

“Families are not going to move into a place where the school is in a stress situation,” Craft said. “I know if we had to make the kind of cuts that we would have to without this levy, we would be looking at families starting to be reluctant to make a commitment to this community.”

Craft said communities with the highest home values are those where the community supports the schools and he said Delaware has been doing that for more than a decade. He said he was confident that the community would continue to support the district.

In other news, the board approved an overnight trip to Findlay, Ohio for the Hayes High School boys basketball team from June 23 to June 24. The board also approved an overnight trip to Bowling Green, Ohio from June 23 to June 25 for the Delaware Hayes Cheer Program.

The board approved a number of staff member resignations, including Amber Masters, a kindergarten teacher at Schultz Elementary School and Michael Sivert, a fifth-grade teacher at Schultz.

The board then approved the following employments:

• George Brown, a sixth-grade teacher at Dempsey Middle School.

• Laura Lesueur, an intervention specialist at Conger Elementary School.

• Jenna Onderko, a sixth-grade teacher at Dempsey.

• Mark Tegtmeier, a music teacher at Dempsey and Hayes.

• Angela Thompson, a P.E. teacher at Woodward Elementary School.

• Michael Troutman, a first-grade teacher at Schultz.

By Glenn Battishill

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.