Gahanna-Jefferson levy's certified results show 76-vote lead

Marla K. Kuhlman
ThisWeek group
Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools administrative offices

Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools officials can breathe a sigh of relief and start making plans to build a new high school.

After over two weeks of anticipation, the Franklin County Board of Elections released official, certified results Nov. 18 that show Issue 22 was approved 14,496 votes to 14,420 votes, or 50.13% to 49.87%.

Before provisional ballots were counted, the combination of bond and levies was passing by only two votes, with 14,097 in favor to 14,095 votes opposed. 

The issue still has one hurdle to overcome, though, as state law requires an automatic recount if the difference between votes cast on an issue or race is equal to or less than ½ of 1%.

Aaron Sellers, the elections board's spokesman, said the elections board is scheduled to meet Nov. 24 to determine which precincts to recount and that the recount tentatively is scheduled Nov. 30. Because the school district is contained to Franklin County, the secretary of state's authorization isn't necessary, he said.

Steve Barrett, G-J superintendent, said even though a recount is pending, he’s confident the final outcome won’t change.

“On behalf of our students, families, teachers and staff – thank you,” he said. “Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools is deeply appreciative to the community for voting to invest in the future of our schools. We are incredibly grateful to our community and excited to move forward with phase 2 of our master facilities plan.”

He said it has been a challenging year on many levels, making the district even more grateful for the community’s support. 

The bond issue, operating levy and permanent-improvements levy, totaling 10.69 mills, are poised to provide funds to build a new Lincoln High School, additions to other district school buildings and operating funds for the district. 

Barrett said the issue is earmarked for the second phase of the master facilities plan and includes the 4.93-mill bond issue and a 1.5-mill permanent-improvements levy, for a total of 6.43 mills.

The issue also includes a 4.26-mill operating levy to hire additional staff to keep pace with increasing enrollment and meet additional costs related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, he said.

The additional cost for the total package is $374 annually per $100,000 of property value.

District treasurer Mike Verlingo said the bond and permanent-improvements levy would be used to service debt for the construction of new facilities – a new Lincoln High School and an expansion to all of the middle schools and some of the elementary schools.

He said the operating component of the levy is for the current operations, for transportation, maintenance, salaries, wages and all the ongoing expenses of the district to keep it solvent.

“It is our firm commitment to utilize these funds wisely as the district works to add critical classroom space to our elementary and middle schools and build a much-needed new Gahanna Lincoln High School,” Barrett said.

He said it would take about 24 months to plan the new high school building and about 24 months to build it.  

“The district is now well positioned to support our current and future students as we grow and welcome new families to our community and our schools,” Barrett said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla