Foundation urges support of Issues 53, 54

To the editor:

If our schools lack basic funding, our foundation’s financial support of innovative programs will become less meaningful. That is why, as Worthington Educational Foundation trustees, we urge everyone to support and vote for Issues 53 and 54.

To fund day-to-day school operations, Issue 53 would phase in new tax rates. For a property valued at $100,000, the phase-in would mean a tax increase that starts at about $12 per month and grows to about $17 per month in the last year. We need this increase despite austere budgeting by the district, such as $3 million in cuts since 2009, including 40 staff positions,pay freezes and higher health-care costs for staff.

The need for this levy arises out of a change in Ohio tax law in 2005. Most significantly, the tangible personal property tax was phased out. The original promise was that new state revenue would replace the lost local revenue, but in the 2011 budget, the state redirected replacement revenue to state priorities. As a result, our district has lost almost $10 million in state funding in the past two years.

If Issue 53 fails, the district must cut $10 million over the next few years – a cut to basic, continuing operations, including additional cuts in teaching positions. An even larger levy would be required to restore the district’s revenue.

Issue 54 would authorize bonds to maintain the buildings and facilities in the district. Passage would not increase your taxes. Issue 54 is sensible stewardship of the school district’s assets. By performing maintenance now rather than deferring, the district would save money in the long run.

We urge Worthington voters to inform themselves about Issues 53 and 54 and to look all the way down the ballot on Election Day. Find Issues 53 and 54 and vote for both.

Worthington Educational Foundation trustees: Bob Maier, chair; Rob Mottice; Jennifer Flint, vice chair; K.J. Shannan; Patti Carey, secretary; Alicia Nesline Shaw; Dan Lacey, treasurer; Nina Parini; Deb Campbell; John Woods; Lesley Cross; Greg Giessler; Phil Haase; Liz Lee; Pat Kelso; Kathy Montag; and Natalie Moore