COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Voters have approved a widely disputed levy proposed by Columbus City Schools that will bring in nearly $100 million annually for the district, according to unofficial election results.
With 97% of precincts reporting, 54% of voters voted for Issue 11.
The Columbus City Schools levy, like other levies, is measured in mills, or one-tenth of a cent. Of the combined 7.7-mill levy, 3 mills, or $38,612,000 per year, will go toward operating expenses. The other 4.7 mills, or $60,492,000 per year, will go toward the district’s permanent improvement fund.
“We have many challenges ahead of us and will continue to focus on improving performance and graduation rates,” Superintendent Dr. Angela Chapman said. “Your vote has made a difference and given Columbus City Schools a boost.”
For each $100,000 of market value, the levy will increase property owners’ taxes by $269.50. The actual millage rate paid by individual taxpayers will vary under the 2023 Franklin County auditor reappraisal.
The district said if the levy didn’t pass, more than 600 positions were at risk of being cut. A number of programs, including elementary school summer programs and career advising expansion, could have also been reduced.
Additionally, the district said buildings would’ve switched to a “run-to-fail” model, which means they would not be maintained or repaired until they break.
Proponents of the levy largely cited the negative impacts the reduction of programs and positions, such as school nurses and counselors, could have on students.
However, the levy has not gone without widespread criticism. Columbus mayoral candidate Joe Motil shared his disapproval with how much the levy would cost property owners.
“More and more residents are unhoused. The Auditor’s property reappraisals and property taxes are coming due and their numbers are soaring,” Motil said in a statement. “I will not support a levy that costs homeowners $269.50 per $100,000 of appraised value.”
The Columbus branch of the NAACP denounced the levy, citing similar concerns over how a raise in property taxes could affect senior citizens and vulnerable populations.
The Equity Now Coalition also voiced its concerns about the levy when it penned a letter to the Columbus Board of Education that said the board needs to build back trust with the community. The coalition wanted the current levy pulled from the ballot, citing a lack of transparency as a big reason.