An increase in enrollment has created the need for two funding requests on the Nov. 6 ballot, according to Worthington Schools leaders.

Issue 9 is a 2.58-mill, $89 million bond that would be used to upgrade technology in all school buildings, purchase new buses, make repairs to all middle schools and help rebuild Perry and Worthingway middle schools.

Issue 10 is a permanent incremental operating levy that would start at 2.9 mills and increase by 2 mills each year until it caps at 8.9 mills in the fourth year.

The levy, which would be used to pay for operating costs, is estimated to generate $2.9 million in fiscal 2019, $7.9 million in fiscal 2020, $12 million in fiscal 2021, $16 million in fiscal 2022 and $18 million in the years following, according to Jeff McCuen, the district's treasurer. The district's fiscal years start every July 1.

Both issues would cost taxpayers a combined total of $191 per $100,000 of property value in the first year, McCuen said.

Worthington Schools residents currently pay $1,545 per $100,000 of property value in district taxes, according to McCuen.

"In the first (year) of the bond issue and operating levy, if successful, this is estimated to increase to $1,736," he said.

McCuen said residents would pay $90 per $100,000 of property value for 30 years for Issue 9.

For Issue 10, residents would pay $101 per $100,000 of property value for the first year. That amount would increase by $70 each year for three years, then top out at $311.

The increases are tied to incremental millage: 2.9 mills the first year, 4.9 the second year, 6.9 the third year and 8.9 in the fourth year, according to Superintendent Trent Bowers. The millage would cap at 8.9, he said.

The district was last on the ballot in 2012 for a permanent incremental operating levy and bond issue. Both were approved by voters.

The levy started at 4.9 mills and went from 5.9 to 6.9 mills, according to McCuen. The $40 million bond issue at that time was 1.86 mills for 16 years, he said.

Bowers said district leaders promised residents that the money from the two issues would last three years. The amount ended up covering funding for six years, and it was accomplished by "controlling health-care costs, staffing and administrative expenses," according to district leaders.

"Over six years, there's been some inflationary growth and some student growth," Bowers said.

The district's total enrollment at the beginning of the 2018 school year was 10,363 students, Bowers said. Enrollment has increased by 1,000 since 2012 and is expected to increase by 800 students in the next five years, district leaders have said.

"We expect enrollment will ebb and flow," Bowers said.

Despite a growing student population, the state has not provided more funding to the district, McCuen said.

"Ohio's school-funding program distributes limited resources," he said. "There are three types of districts with regard to funding. There are those who receive the amount that is produced by the formula, there are those who receive a guaranteed amount above the funding formula to protect them from loss of funds and there are 'capped' districts."

Worthington Schools falls into the capped category and receives less than what the state estimates through its funding formula, McCuen said.

Bowers said if the district were not capped, it would receive an additional $4.5 million per year from the state.

For the 2019 fiscal year, the district will need $139 million for general-fund operations, according to McCuen.

He estimates the district would receive $19.1 million in foundation funding and $4.3 million for tangible-personal-property-tax reimbursement from the state for that year. For the past decade, the state has been phasing out funding from the tax, which has been eliminated.

The addition of more students has led to more building needs, Bowers said.

"As our enrollment has grown, we're out of capacity at the elementary schools," he said.

Bowers said he does not know when or at what number the district would be at capacity, but the elementary schools have reached their full program capacity, which takes into account the use of the rooms as they were intended.

He said he is unwilling to compromise on programs to create more space.

Bowers said that even if the bond issue were approved by voters, the district's new middle schools, which would accommodate sixth through eighth-grade students, would not open until the 2021-22 school year.

"It certainly does not solve everything that we would like or fix every issue, but we're trying to meet the needs of our community for a long time," Bowers said of the two ballot issues.

ThisWeek was not able to identify any organized opposition groups against the ballot issues.

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