Issue 49 supporters will make a last minute push to encourage voters to support the school operating levy, but campaign chairman Jennifer Economus said she feels confident that they have accomplished their goal.

Issue 49 supporters will make a last minute push to encourage voters to support the school operating levy, but campaign chairman Jennifer Economus said she feels confident that they have accomplished their goal.

With major cuts to athletics, academics, and busing on the line - and no organized opposition on the horizon - she is predicting the 6.9-mill incremental operating levy will be approved next Tuesday.

"We are very confident, the support has been overwhelming," she said.

Even Educate Worthington, an independent organization sometimes critical of local school spending, is not opposing the levy. Instead, organizers are asking residents to become involved in planning for financial sustainability.

At a meeting sponsored by the group last week, it was pointed out that even if Issue 49 is approved, the current spending rate will require another levy in 2012, followed by a third in 2013 or 2014.

If this levy is approved, it will be the first incremental levy to pass in central Ohio.

It will be collected at 3.9 mills in 2010, followed by an additional 1.5 mills in 2011 and another 1.5 mills in 2012.

The total cost per $100,000 of property value would be $211 per year.

The district has not passed an operating levy in five years, though voters did approve a bond issue three years ago.

A 7.4-mill levy was defeated by voters last May, with nearly 60 percent of voters casting "no" votes.

This time, voters have been told that $14-million in cuts will be made if the levy is not approved.

Beginning next fall, there would be no sports or extracurricular activities unless they are paid for by parents.

At the elementary schools, there will be no librarians, guidance counselors, bands or strings instruction, and less art, music, and physical education.

There would be no more team teaching at the middle schools, and larger classes and fewer class options at the high schools.

Busing would be discontinued for high school students beginning in January, and there would be no buses for elementary and middle school students living within two miles of school beginning next fall.

In all, approximately 80 teaching positions would be cut, along with 45 classified positions.

The issue that came up early in the campaign and still concerns some residents is the teacher contract that was approved more than a year ago. It included provisions for raises averaging more than 5 percent a year for three years, plus what many say are very generous benefits.

Many urged teachers to return to the bargaining table. That did not occur, but teachers did agree to a 0-percent increase to their base pay in 2011. They would still receive step increases.

Worthington administrators agreed to return their salary increases for the current year. That will save the district approximately $100,000.

Economus said that volunteers have been going door-to-door, manning phone banks, and focusing on face-to-face conversations between friends and neighbors to encourage supporters to go to the polls.

Yard signs in support of Issue 49 have been popular. Each time the committee receives signs, supporters pick them all up immediately, she said.

"It's a good sign, but we're not relenting," she said.

This weekend, campaign volunteers will be back on the streets, talking to residents and handing out pro-levy literature. On Tuesday, they will be at polling places to encourage "yes" votes by holding signs asking voters to support the issue.

cbrooks@thisweeknews.com