Gahanna school district hopes levy will address overcrowding

Local News

Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools is hoping voters will approve a levy on Tuesday that will keep them from having to cut teachers. 

Superintendent Stephen Barrett said it would also pay for a new Lincoln Elementary School. 

“It’s our smallest building. It was built in 1957 and the major systems are the same as they were then,” he said. “We’d really like to rebuild that school on Helmbright, make it a little bigger because our district is growing.”

Barrett said it would cost less to rebuild Lincoln Elementary than to renovate it. 

“We’d like to tear down Lincoln and use it for a future high school solution,” he said.

If passed, the levy would also renovate classrooms, restrooms and media centers across the district, while helping to support a rapidly growing district. 

Barrett said the district is growing rapidly, about 8% over the last five years. He said the majority of their elementary buildings are already at capacity.

“We’re growing, especially in Jefferson Township,” he said. “Right now there’s 212 units being built as we speak and another 374 that may be approved to be built.”

Some parents voting for the levy said they don’t want to see their classrooms become overcrowded. 

“I think it’s important to keep our classroom sizes small to give the kids the instruction that they need, the one-on-one attention,” said parent Stacy Isenbarg. “That can’t be done when we have overcrowded classrooms.”

But, other voters aren’t so sure that more money is the solution. 

If passed, the levy would cost $16 per month on a $100,000 home. 

“I have grandkids in the school system, so I care,” said Jim McLaughlin “Normally, I would want to support this type of thing, but I want to make sure that the money they have right now is being spent wisely. I’m not positive that it is.”

Barrett said this levy is an urgent necessity to maintain programming and class sizes, among other things. It will also modernize classrooms while keeping up with technology. 

“Unfortunately, when we make reductions in schools it’s usually personnel and we have lots of really highly trained, young teachers,” said Barrett. “We don’t want to see them get reduced if this levy fails.”

He said Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools has the third lowest rate for taxpayers in Franklin County. 

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