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Columbus Board of Education Votes to Proceed with Placing a Permanent Improvement Levy and Bond Issue on the November Ballot

May 18, 2022 -- The Columbus Board of Education has adopted a resolution to proceed in placing a 4.7 mill Permanent Improvement Levy (PI Levy) and a $680 million bond issue (2.93 mills)for Segments 4 & 5 of its Facilities Master Plan on the November ballot.

At its May 17 meeting, the Board considered three options:

In a five to two vote, the Board proceeded with plans to place Option 3 on the November 8, 2022, ballot. Members of the Board shared their thoughts on why it’s important to take the next step and ask Columbus voters to invest in the future of the District’s academic programming and facilities.   

Board President Jennifer Adair: "I'm supportive of Option 3. Our children deserve it, and two, to be fully transparent; this is only the beginning. We know that our community has told us that we need at least 19 new learning communities. This decision isn't just about new buildings. This process is about building communities of learning that effectuate the Portrait that allows our students to be Portrait ready, to have rigorous education and opportunities, educationally and career-wise, and bringing them together in these communities that the rest of the state has. We are doing something that is 100% student-focused here. I'm going to use my I statement. Change starts with me. I'm going to fight for our kids, and this is what I believe is right for our kids. Our kids deserve this. This process will be challenging, but our community is behind us. They helped us with a Portrait; they were part of this and understood where we had to go; they asked for 19 buildings.

“The Permanent Improvement (PI) part is just smart; this is a lifecycle replacement. This is about putting in a strategy that ensures that as our buildings and materials age, we can replace them. I'm putting our kids front and center, and I'm asking everyone to do that alongside. This calls into question other conversations about the way public education is funded. Unfortunately, this is our system in Ohio. And unfortunately, we have other systems and other policies pulling funding away from public education. And so, this is an all-in battle; we're going to fight those aspects, we're going to fight bad policy, we're going to fight bad practices, we're going to ensure that funding formulas are done as they are said. We will use the methods we have to ensure that our students have what they deserve now.

“The PI is smart. Creating new learning communities that affect our Portrait of a Graduate makes us stronger as a community; it helps every student reach their full potential and become Portrait ready. They deserve it; Columbus deserves it; they are the next generation. That is why I wholeheartedly support Option 3.”

Board Vice President Ramona Reyes: "If we want to create change as we say we want to do, it would be so nice to see all of our buildings, all of the kids being in the buildings they want and deserve. Every year we hear consistently from our community about our buildings and how they need improvement. It's time for us to make sure that we give our children and our community what they need. So, therefore, I support Option 3."

Board Member Carol Beckerle: "The reasoning, the process, what the kids need, a 21st-Century education, the Portrait of a Graduate - these are all sound, and we've done our homework; it's compelling. And it's compelling in terms of the governance model, the Superintendent's Strategic Plan, the Power of One—it's all coming together, and we'll all have to be all in."

Board Member Eric Brown: "I strongly support this package. The PI Levy is critical. It helps make sure repairs and improvements don't compete for dollars with our academic and teacher resources. Being able to fund both phases at this time makes a great deal of sense. It allows for flexibility and helps carry this into the future with where we are headed and aligns well."

Board of Education Member Michael Cole: "It goes without saying that I'm grateful to our administration and this Board. The community spoke directly to us as to what they wanted. In this section of what we're doing, we're not talking about closing schools but building schools. This decision puts the District in a good fiscal position by including Phase 5 now so that we don't deny our children the right to have the resources they need. This unique opportunity poses some challenges but nothing that we can't figure out. This administration has shown that it's light on its feet. This administration has demonstrated that it can think through challenges and find solutions that first and foremost benefit children."

Board Member Dr. Tina Pierce: "I am supportive of Option 2; at this point, to move forward with a segment that I'm unclear of and need additional information about is not being diligent on my part."

Board Member Christina Vera: "I appreciate this entire process, as a newer member of the Board coming in and learning a lot about our FMP process and recognizing that our students need this. Our students need the community to rally around them and ensure they have these 21st-Century opportunities. And we need our community to be able to do that. Understanding that we have work to do and it will happen in phases will not happen overnight. But for me, I need additional information on phase 5. Option 2 is where I'm at presently."

Segment 4 calls for the construction of five new school buildings by 2027, and Segment 5 will start the design phase in 2025 with anticipated completion by 2029:

  • A new high school with the capacity to serve 1,600 students at the current site of Marion-Franklin High School and the former Beery Middle School.

  • A new high school with the capacity to serve 2,000 students at the current site of Beechcroft High School.

  • A new middle school with the capacity to serve 1,000 students at the current site of Mifflin Middle School.

  • A new elementary school with the capacity to serve 600 students at the current site of Winterset Elementary School.

  • A new elementary school with the capacity to serve 600 students at the current site of Eakin Elementary School.

The segment plans do not outline school attendance boundary adjustments or the consolidation of current schools into the proposed newly-constructed buildings. 

This request asks Columbus home owners to invest approximately $267 in additional property tax each year (based on a $100,000 home), which is approximately a 13% increase in total property tax.

If voters approve the ballot issue in November, design work will begin on the new construction in 2023, with the first building projects starting in 2024. The first of the new schools would open as soon as the 2025-2026 school year, with the remaining facilities opening in the subsequent years. The proposed sites would allow the current schools to continue operations during the construction process.

The Board’s action to proceed comes after a year-long community engagement processthat asked district stakeholders to reimagine the future of CCS school buildings and how our facilities can meet the District's mission and vision of academic opportunities for all students.

The last time the Board placed a funding request on the ballot was in November of 2016, when Columbus voters resoundingly approved a 5.8 mill Operating Levy; 0.50 mill Permanent Improvement Levy; and a $125 million bond issue for 0.84 mills.