SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Local School District’s ballot issue was approved by voters during Tuesday’s mail-in primary election.
Unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections, with all 25 precincts reporting, have the measure passing by a margin of 2,688 votes (55%) to 2,230 (45%).
“Thank you, Big Walnut, for your support,” states a post on Facebook from Eagle Pride Community, a local group that campaigned on behalf of the levy. “While some ballots could arrive late, like those postmarked on Monday, we do not anticipate 458 last-minute ballots, which would be necessary to sway this outcome.”
Ohio changed the spring primary election date from March 17 to April 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The results will become final once the Delaware County BOE holds its official canvas May 19.
“To every Big Walnut supporter who voted Yes, it’s not lost on us that you voted to support and fund our schools while dealing with a pandemic crisis,” states another Eagle Pride Community post. “You are heroes to teachers, staff, students, and to us. Thank you for staying committed.”
Big Walnut was requesting a 5.45-mill continuing substitute operating levy, with collection continuing in 2021.
The levy substitutes a current levy, but the district stressed this is not a new tax. The original five-year levy was approved by voters in November 2010. Voters approved the renewal in May 2015. District residents are currently paying $167 annually per $100,000 property valuation through 2020. With the passage of the continuing levy, homeowners will continue to pay their current rate, and the levy will no longer return to the ballot every five years for approval.
According to the district, the levy represents about 12% of its current operating budget, funding day-to-day operations. Big Walnut voters also passed bond and permanent improvement levies in 2017, but those funds can only be used for capital projects.
The Big Walnut Local School District comprises two villages and portions of six townships (Berkshire, Genoa, Harlem, Kingston, Porter and Trenton) over 109 square miles. Schools in eastern Delaware County date back to 1867 in Galena and 1873 in Sunbury. Big Walnut was founded in 1950, combining the Galena and Sunbury districts. The district is named after the creek that joins the two villages. In 1952, the Harlem Township School in Center Village joined the district.
The district has more than 3,800 students and 400 staff.
“Thank you to everyone who took time to vote in this election,” the district posted on its Facebook page. “We are proud to be part of this community!”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.