Talk of a possible levy was the most prominent part of the Hilliard Board of Education's recent two-day retreat.

Talk of a possible levy was the most prominent part of the Hilliard Board of Education's recent two-day retreat.

On the evening of June 23, after dealing with routine business, board members saw treasurer Brian Wilson's latest five-year projections, which have the district facing a $50 million deficit in fiscal year 2015.

Had teachers and school employees not agreed to the contract extensions that they did recently, he said, it could have been a $70 million deficit.

Wilson said that if a 6.9-mill levy were to go on the ballot in November and it was approved, the district would be in the black through fiscal year 2014, with a slight deficit in 2015. If a levy did not go on the ballot in 2011, the district would need to place a 9.6-mill levy on the ballot next spring just to keep pace, he said, since it would have lost a year of tax collection.

Board members discussed the length of time the levy should be good for, and three years was the consensus. They also thought the levy should go on the November ballot. There was still conversation on other factors, though.

Board member Paul Lambert suggested an incremental levy similar to one passed in Worthington. Different numbers were plugged into Wilson's computer program to see what would give the district a cash cushion, and one scenario that worked was an 8-mill levy, assessed in increments of 5-mills the first year, 2 the second and 1 the next.

However, members said the final numbers for a levy and how they would be administered have not been approved.

Since the district's fiscal year ends June 30, millage could be determined next month, so that the district's five-year forecast extends into 2016.

Lambert said a proposed levy involves four components, each affecting the others the size of the levy, the levy interval, the cash target and the rate of spending growth and selecting any three will determine the fourth.

Superintendent Dale McVey said that for a levy to go on the November ballot, the board would need to approve it in a two-step process prior to Aug. 10.

McVey said the board could do so either in July, or at board meetings on Aug. 1 and 8, and hoped they would all be present for those votes.

On June 24, the board members heard about other school matters for more than six hours straight. There were updates on technology, transportation, food service, building maintenance, legislation affecting the district at the statehouse, Race to the Top, projected housing developments in the district, the Athletics Sustainability Committee, and a review of strategic goals.