School levy tops UA ballot in Nov. 5 election
A school levy that has generated much discussion in the community will be decided at the polls Nov. 5, as will an Upper Arlington City Council election for four available seats and a school board election for two open seats.
Issue 52 is the school district’s request for a 4-mill continuing operating levy. If approved, it would generate about $6.3 million per year and would cost homeowners an additional $140 per year for every $100,000 of home value, Treasurer Andy Geistfeld said.
District leaders said the 4-mill levy request is lower than last November’s failed 5.8-mill request because of increased utility-tax revenue due to local infrastructure upgrades, cuts that eliminated 30 teaching and other staff positions, and an efficiency project that will implement additional budget reductions to save a cumulative $4.5 million over the next four years.
Educate UA, the same citizen group that lobbied against the 5.8-mill levy last year, opposes this levy as well.
Members said the district’s cost-cutting measures failed to address wages and benefits for teachers that are much higher than comparable school districts, and a “contingency plan” recently released by the district threatens more teacher positions.
The contingency plan outlines $6 million in additional budget cuts that are on the line if the levy fails Nov. 5. Phase 1 of the plan would eliminate 29 more positions in instructional and administrative services and seven support positions to save $2.5 million by Aug. 1, 2014. Phase 2 of the plan would save another $2.5 million by Aug. 1, 2015, in personnel costs by cutting another 26 administrative and instructional positions.
Both phases of the plan include $500,000 in extracurricular, co-curricular, equipment and services cuts.
Citizens for UA Schools, the group campaigning for the levy, called the 4-mill levy “a very lean request.” They said district leaders trimmed building budgets, cut staff positions and came up with the efficiency plan to make sure the district can keep its promise to stay off the ballot for four years if the levy passes.
Three Upper Arlington school board candidates – Eric Colombo, Matt McClellan and Carol Mohr – are competing for two school board seats currently held by board President Robert Arkin and Marge Pizzuti. Both have served on the board since 2001 but both opted not to run for re-election this year.
Five candidates are running for four seats on Upper Arlington City Council Nov. 5.
Incumbents John Adams, David DeCapua and Deborah Johnson are seeking re-election and are being challenged by Carolyn Casper and Kip Greenhill for four-year terms on council.
Current council Vice President Frank Ciotola, who was first elected to council in 2005, cannot seek re-election because Upper Arlington’s city charter prohibits council members from serving more than two consecutive, four-year terms.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5.
Unofficial results from the election will be posted online at thisweeknews.com Tuesday night and final, unofficial outcomes will be published in the Nov. 7 edition of ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.