Columbus City Schools officials have asked voters to consider a combined operating levy and bond issue during this year's general election.

Columbus City Schools officials have asked voters to consider a combined operating levy and bond issue during this year's general election.

On Nov. 4, voters will decide Issue 75, which combines a 7.85-mill operating levy and a 1.13-mill bond issue. If passed, it would cost taxpayers about $275 annually per $100,000 of appraised property value.

The operating levy is expected to bring in $77-million annually, while the bond is expected to bring in $164-million.

The district last sought, and received, voter approval of a levy in 2004.

According to CCS officials, the operating levy on the Nov. 4 ballot would fund operations in several areas. If it passes, the money generated would be used to:

Restore a 40-minute period of the day that was cut because of budget constraints.

Reduce student-teacher ratios in grades one through three from 28:1 to 25:1.

Add teachers to support new science and math requirements mandated by the state.

Open four new regional schools.

Add security guards for middle and high schools.

The bond issue funds would be used to replace or renovate 10 to 12 school buildings, purchase buses and replace textbooks and computers.

Board President Terry Boyd said earlier this month that there has been little discussion about whether the district will go back to voters if the issue fails.

In seeking Issue 75, district officials have asked voters to consider the district's academic record. According to Columbus City Schools' state report card, the district has improved, while the student body changed.

In 2004, the district was in "academic watch," the equivalent to a D grade. Since then, it has moved into "continuous improvement," or a C, where it has remained for the past two years. It is the highest rating the district has received.

Its "performance index," a score based on how well each student does on tested subjects in grades three through eight and on the 10th-grade Ohio Graduation Test, has improved in the past two years and now stands at 81.7 out of a possible 120.

The graduation rate has also gone up from about 61 percent in the 2002-03 school year to 71 percent. Still, the state standard for graduation is 90 percent.

Superintendent Gene Harris has said one of the district's most important goals is to meet the state's graduation standard by 2012.

Also, according to the district's most recent report card, CCS met only six of 30 state standards on standardized tests -- five in high school and for districtwide attendance.

Districtwide, there has been a change in the district's student demographics in the past four years. There has been a drop in number of enrolled students and an increase in the number of students who receive free and reduced-price lunches, according to district spokesman Michael Straughter.

He said, in the past four years, the student population went from about 62,200 to about 55,200. As a result, the number of full-time employees dropped from 8,068 in the 2003-04 school year to 7,181 this year.

Other data also show there has been an increase in the number of special education students and English-as-a-second-language students attending Columbus schools.

Dcross@thisweeknews.com