While a successful emergency levy campaign is in the books, the Delaware City School District's quest for more funding has just begun.
District residents Nov. 7 approved a five-year, 8.35-mill levy by a vote of 5,255 to 3,369, or about 61 percent to 39 percent, according to final, unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
The new levy will bring in $6.2 million annually for the district. Homeowners will pay an additional $288 annually per $100,000 in property value.
Superintendent Paul Craft said he was overwhelmed by the result, adding he had "never seen this level of support for a new-money operating levy."
"It's so affirming for the work this team is doing," he said of the district's teachers and other staff members.
Craft said the levy request was tied directly to the state's ongoing decision to give only a portion of the money prescribed by its funding formula to districts in wealthy, growing areas.
He said such funding caps cost the district about $7 million per year.
"We can't continue without the state doing its job of funding its formula," he said.
Craft said officials and residents in the Delaware City School District, Olentangy Local School District and other growing districts need to continue to push for increased funding.
"The No. 1 thing that legislators respond to is having constituents reach out to them," he said.
According to a performance audit released by the state auditor's office in late May, the district would have faced an $18 million deficit by fiscal year 2021 without new revenue or cuts.
Potential cost-saving efforts suggested by the audit included axing programs, laying off three-dozen employees and raising participation fees and ticket prices for athletics.
Craft said voters' approval for the new levy shows residents do not want to see drastic changes in the district. He said the vote reflects that residents "trust in the work we're doing in the classroom."
Craft said the ballot-box result also shows the community understood the looming deficit was not the result of financial mismanagement.
"I think (the vote reflected) the fact that we have been such good stewards of taxpayer money," he said.