Chaffin: Levy passage rate highest in Ohio
Marysville schools Superintendent Diane Mankins had one thing to say the day after the May 7 election: "It's a good day!"
Marysville residents overwhelmingly said 'yes' to a levy renewal that saved jobs and some sports programs and halted pay-to-participate fee increases.
The final unofficial tally by the Union County Board of Elections showed 4,323 votes were cast in favor of the levy (78.84 percent) and 1,160 votes against it (21.16 percent).
"We're very pleased -- felt very good about the turnout and our success," Mankins said.
Board President Jeff Mabee also was pleased with the results.
"Wow. I must have said that 100 times. I was confident that we would have the support we needed, but those numbers were just in another world," Mabee said.
Ken Chaffin was co-chairman of the committee that ran the levy campaign.
"None of us could have predicated a 79-percent rate of passage," he said. "In fact, there were 139 school levies in the state of Ohio on May 7, and Marysville schools had the highest rate of passage. That speaks volumes."
The school board decided to combine a current five-year, 5-mill levy and a 4-mill levy into a 9-mill continuous levy.
Passage of the levy saves 46.5 staff jobs and 75 supplemental contracts; middle school sports, freshman sports, one assistant coach for every high school sport and keeps pay-to-participate fees at $200 instead of the proposed $400 per sport.
Voters turned down a 4-mill levy in November which led to $2.3 million in cuts across the district, including the elimination of 45 positions.
Mabee said district officials learned something from the failed levy last fall.
"This year, we have really stepped up our communications," he said. "If we want to continue to be successful with levies, we have to make it a year-round effort to talk and strengthen our partnership with our community."
There are differences between the levy that failed in November and the one that voters approved last week, Mankins said.
"November was new money and this was a renewal, so just in general, the basis for the levy was different -- but this wasn't an easy sell, either, because it was moving it to continuing," she said.
"I think the biggest thing was the collaboration effort of the community in marketing the campaign. It was a community-run levy campaign this time."
The campaign was completely funded through the Citizens for Schools from donated money.
"I would estimate that roughly $15,000 total was spent primarily on educating our community so they could become informed voters," Chaffin said.
"The most important thing that has come out of all this is we do know that the school district provides a very good value to our community and it was nice to have the voters step up and support that and give us a thumbs-up for the quality we provide," Mankins said. "We're going to continue to work hard to offer quality education to our students at a great value for our taxpayers. That's our commitment."
The Marysville Board of Education now must decide what to do about a 6.56-mill levy that will expire next year.
"They could go on this November to ask for that. It's a 6.56-mill we're only collecting 3 mills on," Mankins said, noting that plans are to seek community advice.
Mabee said the board has always tried to make each dollar go as far as it can.
"We have already started implementing long-term planning tools, like our cash policy plan and committing to doing a district strategic plan this year to help guide our long-term goals and strategies," he said.