Voters say ‘yes’ to school levy, bond issue

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Campaign chair Shilpa Marano raises her arms in victory as Issues 53 and 54 officially pass at the Worthington Education Center on Nov. 6.

Voters in the Worthington school district approved Issues 53 and 54 by convincing margins Nov. 6.

Issue 53, a permanent, incremental operating levy, was approved by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin. With all 59 precincts counted, the unofficial tally from the Franklin County Board of Elections was 16,335 votes in favor and 14,238 votes opposed.

Issue 54, a $40-million bond issue, was approved by a 62 percent to 38 percent margin. The unofficial total from the Franklin County Board of Elections was 18,911 votes for the issue and 11,469 against it.

“The results speak volumes to our community’s commitment to education,” Superintendent Thomas Tucker said.

Levy funds will continue to provide the same quality of education, with no new programs or specific improvements to be paid for with the additional money. That does not mean education in Worthington will stagnate, Tucker said.

"We will continue to get better,” he said.

The district received an A-plus, or “excellent with distinction” rating on its most recent state report card. The slogan of the levy campaign was “to protect proven results.”

Board president Jennifer Best thanked the superintendent and treasurer Jeff McCuen for meeting with more than 100 groups over the past six months.

Tucker said he and McCuen met “with anyone who would listen to us” and appreciated the questions and comments from everyone, including those who questioned the need for the levy. He learned from everyone, he said.

“If you don’t engage this community, the community will engage you,” he said.

Both Tucker and Best thanked Shilpa Marano, who chaired the campaign committee.

The committee assembled “a small army” of volunteers who blanketed the community with awareness and information, she said. They canvassed, sent mailers, made phone calls and took part in community conversations, she said.

“We approached it from every angle,” Marano said.

Best said the board has done all it can to contain costs, from cutting teachers and staff to freezing pay for teachers last year and this year.

“Even with this win, we will continue to look for efficiencies and make the levy stretch as long as it can,” she said.