The Columbus school board is expected to decide Thursday, July 21, which of four levy options will be placed before voters on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The Columbus school board is expected to decide Thursday, July 21, which of four levy options will be placed before voters on the Nov. 8 ballot.

No matter what the board chooses, the dollars would be earmarked for staffing operations and a fixed amount for ongoing maintenance, plus money for deferred maintenance, said Scott Varner, spokesman for Columbus City Schools.

"I think, as a whole, what each of these packages represent are the district's efforts to continue the progress we're seeing in the classroom, where students are performing better each year," Varner said.

"But at the same time, it allows us to begin to address what have been years of deferred maintenance for repair projects that have been put off far too long."

Varner said part of any package deal is a 5.58-mill levy, which would raise $49.6 million annually, to be used by the district over the next five years to expand pre-kindergarten, add support staff for special education, and address other issues relating to personnel and operations.

All four options also include funding dedicated to an ongoing yearly program of maintenance, repair and replacement. A continuous permanent-improvement levy, at 0.5 mills, would provide $4.4 million to prevent future deferment of major capital expenditures.

The board then will seek one of two bond issues: one for 0.84 mills, raising $125 million per year; or one totaling 1 mill, raising $150 million annually.

The money generated would go toward capital improvements, including repairs and replacements of roofs, electrical systems, classroom technology and playgrounds.

Varner said the final option could include another 1.5-mill bond issue, generating $225 million yearly, to rebuild and modernize 13 schools over the next six to eight years, including Columbus Alternative High School and seven middle schools across the district.

He said the various packages represent a 10 percent to 12 percent increase on the total property tax bill for residents of the Columbus City Schools district. If passed, homeowners would pay an additional $242 to $300 annually per $100,000 in assessed property value.

In 2013, the last time Columbus City Schools went to the ballot, voters rejected a levy request by a 2-to-1 margin. An ongoing data-scrubbing scandal, which has cost the district about $1.5 million to date, had been cited as a reason for the failure of Issue 50, which represented a 23.5 percent increase in property taxes.

Board President Gary Baker said the situation is different these days, thanks to Superintendent Dan Good, who has helped lead many improvements in the district. For example, he said, graduation rates are up and student performance has improved on the third-grade reading proficiency tests.

"I think the district is back on track and we're doing well," Baker said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary