Licking County News

Licking Heights

District plans to return to ballot in May


Licking Heights plans to make another levy request in May, following the stinging defeat Nov. 6 of an 8.9-mill emergency operating levy that forced the district to lay off scores of personnel and terminate bus transportation to the high school.

"Most likely the board of education will make a final decision later this month, as the deadline to file for a May levy issue is Feb. 6," said Superintendent Philip Wagner.

Wagner said at that time, the board likely will decide on specific millage for a new levy. He said he was uncertain if the board would choose another 8.9-mill levy.

Wagner said he expects a May levy would be marketed somewhat differently than the failed Nov. 6 levy request.

"The levy committee will steer the campaign, but in the wake of the failed levy in November 2012 and what has been said to me, I anticipate much more involvement in the levy campaign from parents and community members," he said.

"We really believe in this school district, and we believe in the citizens of this community," said board member Nicole Roth. "We believe the levy will pass in May."

She said levy failure in May would bring "astronomical" consequences.

"I was hearing around the district after the (failed) levy in November that some people were still uninformed, or really did not grasp the significance of what would happen if it failed in November," Roth said. "Obviously, our strategy will have to change for May."

She said the district must increase its communication with the community using all available resources, including Facebook, Twitter, the district website, the levy website, phone calls and mailers.

"We need to make sure we communicate the outcome if it should fail as well as if it passes," Roth said. "If it fails, what will need to be cut, and if it passes, what can be reinstated and what can be enhanced.

"Our school district has historically done more with less. Imagine what we could do if we were fully funded? Our students deserve every opportunity we can provide for them as a community."

In other news, Wagner said Dec. 17 the Ohio Development Services Agency voted on and approved the district's application for a $100,000 grant through the Local Government Innovation Fund program for a feasibility study related to potential sharing of administrative staff with Southwest Licking Local Schools.

The Local Government Innovation Council is a group dedicated to facilitating innovative programs that create efficiency in government by promoting shared services and mergers between public entities.