A little more than a month before the Aug. 4 vote, pro- and anti-schools levy groups are making their voices heard.

A little more than a month before the Aug. 4 vote, pro- and anti-schools levy groups are making their voices heard.

Jill Billman-Royer and Mark Mayers, co-chairpersons of the pro-levy group Citizens for South-Western City Schools, spoke to about 50 people during a Grove City Rotary Club meeting Thursday, June 18, at the Pinnacle Golf Club.

"We are on a really tight timeline," Billman-Royer said. "Our students stand to lose opportunities if Issue 2 fails."

Absentee voting for the 8.3-mill, four-year levy begins June 30.

The levy would raise about $21-million annually for the school district and cost homeowners an additional $254 per $100,000 of assessed home value each of the levy's four years.

As of last week, Billman-Royer and Mayers estimated levy supporters had 45 days to spread the word.

"These 45 days are very critical," Mayers told Rotary members.

They asked for endorsements, but not just any endorsement; they want what they called an endorsement as a co-chairperson.

"It's not enough to endorse the levy," Billman-Royer said. "An endorsement is not enough. We're going to ask more from you."

Endorsers will be expected to take a more active role in the pro-levy campaign, she said.

"It's not just an endorsement where they give their name and walk away," Billman-Royer said. "They're more invested."

Mayor Richard L. "Ike" Stage was the first to endorse the levy as a co-chair, she said.

Although he did not attend the Rotary Club meeting, Stage said that he will help represent the pro-levy campaign at future engagements by speaking with Billman-Royer and Mayers.

Stage said he met with Billman-Royer after the Rotary Club meeting to formalize his endorsement duties.

"Superior schools are extremely important for the community," Stage said.

Voters rejected a May levy attempt by 11 percent, or 2,600 votes, and the November 2008 attempt by about 15 percent, or 9,000 votes.

Almost 24,000 of the 82,000 registered voters in the school district showed up to turn down the levy in May. That's about 29 percent of voters.

In November, nearly 54,000 turned out, which is 66 percent of voters.

Billman-Royer and Mayers said levy supporters have a plan for making up the needed votes in the special election Aug. 4.

Citizens for SWCS currently has 93 team leaders who organize a minimum of 25 people, Mayers said.

Each volunteer in the team has been asked to find 10 "yes" voters. When a "yes" voter is identified, the voter's information is put into a campaign group database.

Volunteers then ensure their 10 "yes" voters go to the polls Aug. 4.

"This is a community effort," Billman-Royer said. "We're just concerned citizens."

Meanwhile, Terry Jones, the man in charge of the anti-levy group South-Western Alternatives to Taxes, said he plans to share his views from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, at the Grove City Church of the Nazarene.

"We've been staying busy the last few weeks," Jones said.

Anti-levy group members launched a Web site, www.swatlevy.com, almost three weeks ago, Jones said.

Also, he said he has received several more phone calls from community members showing support for the anti-levy campaign this time.

"There's more interest in this third attempt than I have seen in the previous two attempts," Jones said. "I really haven't seen this much interest, enthusiasm and anger.

"We're far more organized this time than we ever have been."

Residents of the community are angry that schools officials would make a third attempt at passing a levy, Jones said.

"They feel like they've been disenfranchised, like their vote doesn't count," he said. "I really don't think this levy is going to pass."

ebrooks

@thisweeknews.com