The Groveport Madison Schools will ask voters May 7 to give their stamp of approval to the renewal of an existing 6.10-mill operating levy and a 4.72-mill bond issue, both of which were certified for the ballot Feb. 19 by the Franklin County Board of Elections.

District treasurer John Walsh said the renewal levy, which would replace a 2014 operating levy that expires at the end of 2019, is needed to continue current operations.

If passed, the operating levy would generate about $5.694 million each year, he said.

"The operating levy is essentially a no-tax-increase (measure) as the millage rate was set to generate the same tax as today," Walsh said.

If not renewed, he said the district would lose $2.8 million in revenue next year and $5.6 million in fiscal year 2021.

"Revenue losses of this magnitude will require substantial cuts across the board," district communications director Jeff Warner said. "Without passage of the operating levy, we will be right back to where we were five years ago or worse."

Funds generated by the bond issue would be used to build three new schools for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade and one new junior high school for grades seven and eight.

According to information from the district, the new buildings are projected to cost $148.7 million, but the state would pick up 53 percent of the base construction costs if voters approve the bond issue.

For the owner of a home valued at $100,000, Walsh said the bond issue would cost about $165 per year.

Warner said the bond issue is needed for several reasons, including the age of the buildings.

Most Groveport Madison elementary and middle school buildings are more than 40 years old, he said. One was built in the 1920s.

"They have numerous condition issues, including leaky roofs, failing plumbing and obsolete electrical systems that cannot support today's educational needs," Warner said.

"They also lack some of the basic safety measures and systems that new schools can provide," he said.

Warner added that overcrowding is also a "serious problem" in the district.

Since there is not enough space for students, he said the district uses more than 20 detached trailer classrooms.

Seth Bower and Todd Gray are leading the Groveport Madison Committee for Better Schools to make voters aware of the renewal levy and bond issue.

Bower, who has a second-grader at Madison Elementary School, was involved with the community outreach meetings as well as the facility planning committee the district held to determine the interest and need for the new buildings.

As a result and because he sees the need for the facilities, Bower said he decided to get involved in the campaign.

"It really comes down to making sure that we are doing what is best for the kids in our community," he said. "And especially having my son in the school district, I have been able to see firsthand the need for this levy.

"It is good for the students and I really feel it is good for the community as a whole, and it is really smart for the taxpayers to do this levy right now and vote for it," he said.

Bower said the levy committee is in the process of setting up a website as one way to get information out to the public.

"We're really excited about the opportunity to get the word out, and we will be spreading that here soon," he said.

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