A ruling by the Supreme Court of Ohio will lead Delaware Area Career Center officials to seek approval for a levy in November.

The high court last week denied the center's request for reconsideration of a ruling that invalidated its most recent levy.

Voters approved a renewal levy for the career center by an overwhelming margin in 2015, but an error by the Delaware County Board of Elections kept the issue off ballots in the portions of Franklin, Marion, Morrow and Union counties served by the center.

The court in March ruled 4-3 that the board's mistake prevented the proper certification of the election results to the state tax commissioner, invalidating the 1.7-mill levy.

The court April 7 ruled 4-3 it would not reconsider its decision.

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor wrote a dissenting opinion in response to the initial majority ruling. She was joined by justices Judith L. French and Patrick F. Fischer. The trio also supported reconsideration of the decision.

Career center Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman said DACC officials plan to return to the ballot in November to ask voters to approve a levy. She said the details of the potential ballot issue have not been finalized.

The deadline to file the levy request with the county board of elections would be Aug. 9.

Freeman said her priority in the coming months would be to look for ways to prevent cuts to educational programming.

"Our first and foremost priority is to continue (providing) a quality education for our students," she said.

Freeman said the court's ruling will lead the center to pause the $45 million expansion and renovation project at its south campus off U.S. Route 23 in Liberty Township sometime in the summer. She said the doors and windows to the incomplete addition would be sealed off until a new levy is approved.

Center officials previously expected to move all students from the north campus off state Route 521 east of Delaware to the south campus by the second semester of the 2018-19 school year. Freeman said the ruling means the center will not meet that deadline.

Freeman said the union representing the center's teachers has agreed to extend its current contract, which was set to expire June 30, for an additional year with no base-salary increases.

The center also will require summer staff to work four-day weeks in an effort to reduce cooling costs.

DACC officials had argued in the suit that the ruling "creates a dangerous new precedent" by allowing the state's tax commissioner -- in this case, Joseph Testa -- to "unilaterally reject the results of an election."

Freeman said she would not be surprised to see an error cost another district levy funding through no fault of its own in the future after the ruling.

"I think it could happen any place in the state," she said.

The Buckeye Association of School Administrators, the Delaware County Board of Elections, the Ohio Association of Election Officials, the Ohio Association of School Business Officials and the Ohio Municipal League supported the failed motion for reconsideration.

Freeman said she hopes voters are not confused by the center's return to the ballot in the fall and realize center officials did not create the situation.

"My concern is that people understand what happened and why we're back in two years," she said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick