The Reynoldsburg Board of Education is hoping a 9.9-mill levy on the November ballot will be received more favorably by voters than a 15.6-mill levy that was rejected in May.

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education is hoping a 9.9-mill levy on the November ballot will be received more favorably by voters than a 15.6-mill levy that was rejected in May.

If it, too, is defeated, board member Chip Martin said the district will "get no collection whatsoever for an entire year."

Martin said he doesn't think the amount could be any less than 9.9 mills.

"We're trying to get by with something and be sensitive to the fact that we're in difficult economic times," he said. "When we look at the fact that we want to just sustain what we have right now. ... I don't see it could be any less."

The board agreed Aug. 18 to put the 9.9-mill operating levy before voters on Nov. 3. If passed, it would cost an additional $303.19 per $100,000 of home valuation.

According to the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the average median home value in Reynoldsburg is $162,695. The cost of the levy for that home would be $493 annually.

Board Vice President Andrew Swope, a member of the district's finance committee, said after reviewing proposals for 8.9 mills or 9.9 mills, the larger amount was chosen because it would enable the district to at least bring back transportation for students in kindergarten through eight grade.

"We took a look at the five-year forecast based on cuts that we have made and what we need to get as close to five years as possible by bringing things back that we think are essential," Swope said. "The 9.9-mill levy doesn't bring back anything else. It does take into account we're going to lose stimulus funds. We've made $11-million dollars in cuts, and I think 9.9 is a minimal amount to sustain itself four years at the most."

Superintendent Steve Dackin and board President Cheryl Max explained that an operating levy is different from a bond issue.

By state law, an operating levy can only be used to fund school district operations. A bond issue can only be used to renovate or construct new buildings.

In March 2008, voters approved a $56-million bond issue and 0.5-mill tax levy -- the last of three requests for bond money since 2002 to renovate and build new schools. Voters passed all three.

Dackin said it has been 13 years since the Reynoldsburg district has had new operating money. With the exception of new construction, the district is literally running on 1997 dollars, he said.

"The funding system in Ohio is predicated on a partnership between the state and local community," Dackin said. "We're kind of a poster child for that in Reynoldsburg because 51 percent of our revenue comes from the state, 47 percent comes from local, and we have federal funds that make up the difference.

"This district has not replenished the local share of that for 13 years, and with our system in Ohio, there is a little thing called tax reduction factor that keeps school districts from collecting any more on outside millage than they originally passed.

"With the exception of new construction, we're literally operating the district on 1997 dollars for a lion's share of our operating funds," he said.

"We've got to make a decision about what we want for the quality of education for our children."

dowen@thisweeknews.com