Residents in the Groveport Madison Local School District will decide which way the levy pendulum will swing when they go to the polls May 7.
At stake is the fate of a $5.5-million, five-year emergency levy. If approved, the 7.08-mill levy would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $217 more in property taxes each year or nearly $18 per month.
According to a five-year forecast presented to the Ohio Department of Education last year, the district is anticipating being in the hole by nearly $438,000 by June 30, 2013.
The deficit jumps to $4.7 million next school year.
"The Groveport Madison Local Schools need this levy to build competitive opportunities for our students and preserve existing programs and services without cuts," Superintendent Bruce Hoover said.
To help make ends meet, the district has been relying on cash advances against expected tax payments that are disbursed through the Franklin County Auditor's office.
Board President Mary Tedrow, who also is serving as the levy campaign chairwoman, said campaign workers -- including board members, teachers, staff, students and community members -- have been canvassing neighborhoods, placing information on Facebook, making phone calls and sending postcards, emails and mailers to parents and voters.
Tedrow hopes the message being sent comes through loud and clear.
"We desperately need additional money to make up for state and federal reductions and increased costs due to inflation," she said, noting that 10 literacy coach positions have already been eliminated and other jobs and programs "which are important for the safety and education of our students" could also be cut.
If the levy fails, the school district faces an additional $2.5 million in cuts.
"These cuts would affect the availability of transportation, extracurricular and co-curricular programs such as band, art, music and physical education," Hoover said.
In addition, he said, there would be reductions in the teaching and administrative staff "as well as a reduction in educational aides, technology, custodial and maintenance services and food prep."
If the levy passes, Hoover said the district still plans to save money by changing attendance boundaries for its schools, which will affect about 25 percent of students.
"If the levy passes, we will fortify our existing programs and services that have been underfunded for a number of years and begin to provide competitive services for our students to save our parents money in the areas of science, math, technology, engineering, dual-credit and college readiness and public preschool programs," Hoover said.