The Reynoldsburg Board of Education unanimously approved a 15.6-mill operating levy for the May 5 ballot during the Feb. 17 regular board meeting.

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education unanimously approved a 15.6-mill operating levy for the May 5 ballot during the Feb. 17 regular board meeting.

The board was presented with three different options prior to Tuesday's meeting, for 13.9, 14.9 or 15.6 mills.

Board member Chip Martin made the motion to vote on a 15.6-mill levy, which was seconded by board member Mary Burcham.

Treasurer Mitch Biederman explained the difference between a 13.9-, a 14.9- and a 15.6-mill operating levy, in regard to what a homeowner would pay and what the district would collect.

Biederman said, as certified by the Franklin County Auditor's Office, a 13.9-mill levy would cost an additional $425.69 annually per $100,000 of valuation. That breaks down to $35.48 monthly, or $1.17 daily and would generate $10,703,042 annually for the district.

A 14.9-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $456.32 annually, $38.03 monthly, or $1.25 daily and would bring in $11,473,045 annually for the district.

The 15.6-mill levy, if passed in May, would generate $12,012,047 annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $477.75 annually, $39.82 monthly or $1.31 daily.

Biederman said 1 mill generates just over $770,000.

"One of the things we heard from the town meeting (held on Feb. 9) was to make sure that we ask for enough, make sure that it lasts, and to streamline if we can in any way possible," Biederman said. "I think that is why the finance committee selected these three options for the resolution of necessity."

He said a 15.6-mill levy, based on what is known now, would take the district through fiscal year 2013.

Martin wanted to make sure voters understand the difference between an operating levy and a bond issue.

A bond issue raises money to fund construction of new buildings and renovate existing facilities, while an operating levy helps generate money to help operate and maintain staff, administration, programs and services.

Money from a bond issue cannot be used for operating expenses under state law.

The district has cut costs by $6.5-million in the past three years.

Superintendent Steve Dackin said he has identified $11-million in immediate cuts that would be necessary without new local revenue.

The potential reductions include eliminating K-6 art, music and physical education, reducing transportation to state minimum requirements, eliminating high school busing and offering busing only to K-8 students who live more than two miles from their schools and eliminating funding for sports and extracurricular activities. Participation fees would be $800 per child per sport for athletics.

Other reductions would include eliminating 44 core-subject teachers, eliminating elective courses, including German and French at the high school level, as well as Spanish at the junior high level, shortening the student day to the five-hour state minimum and closing school buildings at the end of the school day.

In March 2008, voters passed Issue 27 -- a $56-million bond issue and 0.5-mill tax levy -- which will raise $56-million over 28 years.

Voter approval of Issue 27 also made the district eligible to receive $55-million from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission. That money is being used to build a new elementary and high school off of Summit Road and to remodel and upgrade existing facilities throughout the district.

School officials said voter approval of the 15.6-mill operating levy on May 5 will help the district maintain its programs and services and help avoid possible budget cuts ranging anywhere from $11-million to $15-million in the next year.

dowen@thisweeknews.com