As I've read the letters to the editor written by opponents of the school levy, I have noticed many statements that the Gahanna-Jefferson school district spends its tax dollars poorly and that the districts leaders are to blame for repeated levies.

As I've read the letters to the editor written by opponents of the school levy, I have noticed many statements that the Gahanna-Jefferson school district spends its tax dollars poorly and that the districts leaders are to blame for repeated levies.

The facts do not support these claims. Here are some facts, found at the websites of the Ohio Department of Education, the Franklin County Auditor and School Funding Matters.

Gahanna-Jefferson's 2009-2010 total per-pupil expenditure was $11,832, below the average of $11,908 for the 16 school districts in Franklin County.

Gahanna-Jefferson has the third-lowest tax rate in Franklin County, yet our school district achieved an "excellent" rating in 2010, having met 25 of the 26 state performance standards.

The need for repeated levies is not caused by Gahanna-Jefferson's management of your tax dollars. Having spent four years overseeing the budget as a board member, during which time we extended the life of the then-existing levy, I can assure you that Gahanna-Jefferson's administration is quite fiscally conservative. Gahanna-Jefferson's school funding system, the system under which all Ohio school districts are funded, was created by the Ohio Legislature via House Bill 920 in 1976. Under this system, because of "phantom revenue," Gahanna-Jefferson actually receives less funding each successive year, which periodically necessitates additional levies.

In four separate opinions, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled this flawed system unconstitutional.

This levy is a necessity because of the repeated failure of our state leaders, not our school district.

The 2011 Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation Celebration of Excellence, our seventh annual event, was a huge success thanks to the generous support of business partners, 27 corporate table sponsors, local restaurants, supportive community members and a legion of volunteers.

We were assisted by celebrity emcee Yolanda Harris, a Gahanna graduate and WSYX 6 news anchor, as we hosted 430 guests who enthusiastically bid on seven live and 600 silent auction items. We also featured a special Fund A Need donation request to support SMART board technology funds for each school in the district.

The results were amazing - $24,000 was designated for Fund A Need and a total, including Fund A Need, of $120,000 was raised through all proceeds generated by the evening's activities, surpassing our previous best of $104,000 three years ago.

While all enjoyed the evening, the true benefactors are the students and teachers across the district who will have expanded opportunities through the educational Grants of Excellence funded twice yearly by the Foundation.

As we prepare for next year's Celebration of Excellence scheduled for Feb. 25 at Villa Milano, we pause and reflect extending a sincere thank-you to all who had a hand in allowing us to continue to "Promote Excellence."