The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District will move forward with plans for a new elementary school and improvements to other school buildings, thanks to voter approval of Issue 2 in the May 8 primary.
"We are grateful to our entire community for its support," said Steve Barrett, district superintendent. "Teachers, parents and community members were passionate about this levy, and they really rallied together with community pride to make sure the levy was successful."
A proposed 1.22-mill, 30-year bond issue and a 4.28-mill continuous operating levy, for a total of 5.5 mills, won by a vote of 7,521 to 4,510 or 63 percent to 37 percent, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
The cost to the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 will be an additional $16 per month, or $192.50 per year.
District treasurer Kristine Blind said the same homeowner currently pays $112.53 per month, or $1,350.36 per year, based on the district's effective tax rate.
Barrett said district leaders met in a lot of living rooms, listening to parents of students and community members.
"In a very real sense, we asked for voters' permission to maintain current programs and to build a new elementary school to replace Lincoln Elementary, including classroom, media-center and restroom renovations in all K-8 buildings," he said. "We know the community has high expectations on how we use this revenue, and the district will proceed diligently and communicate extensively throughout the construction process."
The combined issue is the result of a 2017 master facilities plan, meant to address overcrowding and the need to update school facilities, Barrett said.
The new elementary school will be built on district-owned property on Helmbright Drive, replacing Lincoln Elementary School.
The bond will cover the cost of renovating restrooms, media centers and classrooms in K-8 buildings.
Barrett said the district has been dedicated to the fiscally responsible management of funds raised through its last operating levy, which was approved in 2011, and made $1.3 million in spending reductions last spring to extend that levy's life.
On behalf of the board of education, president Beryl Brown Piccolantonio thanked the volunteers who served on the levy committee, the teachers, the district staff and community volunteers.
"We are so grateful to each of you who volunteered your time and ideas for this campaign," she said. "Thank you also to voters in our community, who demonstrated that they understand the importance of providing quality education to each of our kids."
Piccolantonio said the board appreciates the community's support for the levy, and board members don't take lightly the trust placed in them.
"We hope you will continue to engage with us and ask questions as we implement our plans and begin discussions about phase 2 of the master facility plan," she said. "Gahanna-Jefferson schools will always be where kids come first."
Barrett said he also wanted to thank teachers and staff for all they did to help get the word out.
"Jenny Palguta, the GJEA (Gahanna-Jefferson Education Association) president, was instrumental in helping us pass this levy," he said. "I also want to thank our levy committee, chaired by Jon Handler. I want to thank our board of education, which truly has the best interests of our students and community in mind in the work they do."
Cheers for liquor options
In addition to the school tax issue, voters also approved two local liquor options.
In Precinct 2-D, voters overwhelmingly approved Issue 15b, a local option for Sunday sales from 11 a.m. to midnight for wine/mixed and spirituous liquor at Mug & Jug, 333 Agler Road.
The issue passed 198 to 64 votes, or 76 percent to 24 percent, according to unofficial results from the elections board.
Also in Precinct 2-D, voters gave a resounding "yes" to Issue 16b, a local option for Sunday sales from 11 a.m. to midnight for wine/mixed and spirituous liquor at the Pub in Gahanna, 207 W. Johnstown Road.
The issue passed by a vote of 201 to 62, or 76 percent to 24 percent.
Mifflin police levy gets nod this time
In Mifflin Township, a tax levy in the unincorporated area of the township was approved by a vote of 111 to 99, or 53 percent to 47 percent, according to unofficial results.
The proposed tax levy, Issue 19, replaces 3 mills and increases 3 mills, for a total of 6 mills, for police protection.
It is the same issue that failed in November 2017.
The issue will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $157 more per year in property taxes, for $210 in total costs, according to the Franklin County Auditor's Office. Currently, those residents pay about $53 annually for the existing 3-mill levy, which is collecting at an effective rate below 2 mills.
The Mifflin Township Police Department patrols the unincorporated area of the township, about 3.9 square miles with a population of less than 5,000, and includes five full-time officers to maintain 24-hour police protection.