Citizens for Quality Schools will have five co-chairpersons to help tout Issue 5 - Gahanna-Jefferson's 6.8-mill permanent levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Citizens for Quality Schools will have five co-chairpersons to help tout Issue 5 - Gahanna-Jefferson's 6.8-mill permanent levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The co-chairpersons are Heather Bishoff, Dewitt D. Harrell, Scott McComb, Ellen Murphy and Trisha Twigg.

Bishoff, of Bishoff Financial Group Inc., said she decided to help with the campaign because it's important for her to see the community support its schools.

"It's so important," she said. "It doesn't matter if your children go to Gahanna schools or not. It says a lot about our community if we can pass and support the school system."

A good school system is a quality that people seek when looking for a home, Bishoff said.

If approved, the levy would raise $10.1-million annually and would cost an additional $208.25 for each $100,000 in assessed property value. The median home value in Gahanna is slightly more than $200,000, so the median additional cost would be about $420 per year.

Revenue from the levy would go toward district operating expenses, including technology, textbooks, transportation and teachers.

"If we don't support the school system, we aren't supporting our local economy, retaining residents or attracting new residents or businesses," Bishoff said.

She has four children in the district - two at the elementary level, one in middle school and one in high school.

Bishoff and Twigg will manage the day-to-day activities of the campaign.

"We think we can do this effectively and efficiently without spending much money," Bishoff said.

During the next three months, she said, Superintendent Mark White wants to reach out to local neighborhoods so the public understands what's needed to support the schools.

"We want to be as transparent as possible," Bishoff said. "We have a new superintendent who has a lot of positive energy and wants questions answered."

Harrell recently told the G-J school board he and his family moved to Gahanna from Cleveland in 1996.

"We had a choice between two cities," he said. "We decided on Gahanna. It had a high graduation rate. The high school is phenomenal."

He said he also liked that Gahanna is "a small town that thinks big," he said.

Harrell, chief financial officer for the Columbus Metropolitan Library, said he appreciates the district getting the most out of taxpayers' money, as demonstrated by the district having the third-lowest tax rate in Franklin County. Hamilton Township and Groveport Madison have lower tax rates.

"The administrators know how to get the most out of every dollar," he said. "This 6.8-mill levy is a small price to pay for the education we're seeking to get kids through every level with the right amount of school and mentoring. It's an opportunity to ensure our kids get the best they can get."

Although Clark Hall has been an item of great discussion in the community, Herrell sees it as a "sustainable entity" for the district.

Clark Hall, a three-story, 50,000-square-foot facility, is in the process of being built to address the high school's overcrowding.

The public-private venture at Hamilton Road and Granville Street initially was to have retail space on the first floor and modern, office-style classroom space on the top two floors for G-J classes.

The Eastland-Fairfield Career and Technical Schools will occupy 8,403 square feet of space on part of the first floor, and another higher-education entity has expressed interest in the remaining space on that floor. Two additional buildings on the property will house office and retail spaces and will be owned and built by a developer.

Up to half of the cost to build Clark Hall will be covered through revenue streams from land leases and property taxes on the retail and office spaces.

Herrell said this innovative approach offers a "strong financial structure."

For more information, visit the Citizens for Quality Schools website at www.gjpslevy.org.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com