Upper Arlington News

UA Board of Education

Fall levy to be discussed at July 15 meeting


Upper Arlington school leaders have made it no secret they are considering putting a school levy on this year's fall ballot after failing to convince voters to pass a 5.8-mill levy request last November.

To get a levy request on the fall ballot, board members will have to pass resolutions of necessity before Aug. 7. The board's next meeting is scheduled at 4 p.m. July 15 at the Central Office, 1950 North Mallway Drive.

Board Vice President Stacey Royer said the levy proposal and levy scenarios will be discussed at that meeting.

"As of today, no official decisions regarding a potential ballot issue have been made, though I know it will be discussed at our next board meeting in July," she said last week.

Royer said the district is "in the middle of a huge transition" as Superintendent Jeff Weaver retires and Paul Imhoff steps into his shoes.

"Mr. Imhoff's first day is July 1," she said. "I know that once he is on board, discussions concerning the finances of the district and, in particular, discussions concerning a potential levy in November will begin."

Karen Truett, new director of communications for the district, said June 28 that Imhoff and Treasurer Andy Geistfeld have already been delving into district finances.

"Paul and Andy have already had many discussions about the district's finances, but they will be able to dig deeper when Paul officially joins us," she said. "No official decisions regarding a potential ballot issue have been made at this point, but it will be a topic of discussion during the July meeting."

After cutting more than 40 staff members, bumping up athletic fees and enacting departmental budget cuts, former Superintendent Jeff Weaver said in April the nearly $6 million in cuts scheduled over the next two years were necessary to keep the next levy request as low as possible.

Nearly 55 percent of voters rejected the 5.8-mill levy in November 2012.

Weaver said in April that a high per-pupil cost and significant labor costs were cited as some of the reasons residents voted no.

He said the only way to address those concerns was to cut staff positions, since the district's cost per pupil is largely driven by labor costs that make up 80 to 85 percent of the budget.

Pay-to-participate fees were also increased at the high school level from $85 to $100 per sport and at the middle schools from $42.50 to $50 per sport.

The district also let its certification for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years program lapse.

The district's new five-year financial forecast, approved in May, shows anticipated revenue of $68,123,276 at the end of fiscal year 2012, with expenditures coming in at $77,907,945. That leaves an expected deficit of $9,784,669.

The deficit was offset by a carried-over cash balance; once encumbrances are taken into account, the district's unreserved fund balance on June 30 was $32,805,109.

That balance dwindles as the five-year forecast continues, however, ending with a projected deficit of $3.7 million in June 2017.