The COVID-19 coronavirus has made the future uncertain in many areas, but Olentangy Schools voters made sure the district’s funding is not one of them.
Voters approved the district’s three-in-one tax issue by a wide margin on the 2020 primary ballot, according to unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections.
Unofficial results show the issue was approved 12,318 votes to 9,031 votes, or 57.7% to 42.3%. Mailed-in ballots postmarked by April 27 will be counted with the official results.
"The passage of this ballot issue is validation that our community supports the opportunities and education our students receive," school board President Mindy Patrick said. "They are making a personal investment to ensure we maintain the same level of excellence. We are so very grateful for their support."
Delaware County Board of Elections director Karla Herron said her office will complete the official count and examination of ballots May 19.
The election was delayed from March 17 because of the coronavirus pandemic and was completed by mailed-in absentee ballots, early in-person voting or voters dropping off ballots at county boards by 7:30 p.m. April 28.
The three-part issue includes: a $134.7 million, no-new-millage bond issue to fund the construction of a new middle school and two elementary schools; a 0.5-mill permanent-improvements levy to fund the ongoing maintenance and improvement of facilities throughout the district, including technology upgrades; and a 7.4-mill operating levy for day-to-day operating expenses, such as staff salaries and program costs.
"I am proud of our community for recognizing that strong schools are essential to our collective well-being. The One Olentangy spirit demonstrated by the community’s support is wonderful. Together we are paving the way for a successful future where our students and community continue to flourish," Superintendent Mark Raiff said.
The approval allows the district to build two elementary schools and a middle school, with the first elementary school set to open at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
The levy portions of the ballot issue will provide funding to staff and operate the three new schools, as well as to update playground equipment, construct security vestibules at all schools and purchase new school buses.
For residents, the issue will increase property taxes by about $277 annually for every $100,000 of home valuation. For the district, it will generate about $31 million each year for operations and $2.1 million for improvements, starting in 2021.