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Board Takes First Step Toward a Levy on the November Ballot

On Thursday, July 6, at a special meeting of the Dublin City School District’s Board of Education, the Board unanimously approved a resolution to initiate placing a bond and operating levy on the November ballot. The resolution combines a no-new millage $145 million bond issue with a 7.9-mill operating levy, allowing the district to address  enrollment growth and increasing expenses.

The district was last on the ballot in 2018, when voters approved the combination of a no-new millage $195 million bond issue and 2-mill permanent improvement levy, and 5.9-mill operating levy. The revenue generated from the strong support of voters in 2018 has helped Dublin City Schools maintain its status as a top-ranked district in Ohio. In addition to sustaining operations, the issue provided the resources needed to construct three new school buildings, centralize preschool, and add two-wings to Jerome High School. The opening of Hopewell Elementary and Abraham Depp Elementary in 2020 and Eversole Run Middle School in 2021 alleviated enrollment growth, allowing the district to prioritize safety and learning.

As development in the district's northwest quadrant has moved forward, more students are enrolling. Abraham Depp Elementary is already at capacity, with projections showing their enrollment doubling within the next five years. Twelve modular classrooms were added to the campus earlier this year as a temporary solution to accommodate more students. 

The growth is not limited to Abraham Depp Elementary. A recent study by Cooperative Strategies shows that Dublin City Schools is projected to grow by an average of 270 students annually through 2032. “Dublin is a destination school district,” shared Superintendent Dr. John Marschhausen. “Not only are we seeing new housing developments in the northern portion of the district, but there are now active conversations for new housing options in the southeastern portion of the district as well. The growth is coming, and it is our responsibility to plan ahead.”

“Under the current Ohio law and school funding model, we don’t experience matching growth in revenue with additional students or increased property valuations,” explained Brian Kern, Treasurer and CFO for Dublin City Schools. While the district works to explain the impact of new housing with the multiple municipalities its students reside in, including Union County and the City of Columbus, the reality is those residential housing developments are and will continue to be constructed. “We communicate regularly with Union County and Jerome Township to share the real impact of the residential housing developments going up in our northern district boundaries, and we will continue to do so even with the passage of a levy. Regardless of where students live, we take pride in having the responsibility to provide them a quality education and excellent student experience, and we want that to continue for all Dublin City Schools students.”

Board President, Mr. Chris Valentine, knows that any request for funding is a big ask for the taxpayers in our community. “Dublin invests in our children. We take each levy request seriously. With 85% of our operating budget being salary and benefits, levies pay the salaries of the incredible teachers and support staff we have in this district. These are the people directly providing and supporting an outstanding educational experience for our kids,” he shared. 

Lindsay Gillis, Board Vice President, agrees. “Since 2018, the district has worked hard to stretch every dollar while keeping up with rapid growth and increasing student needs. The addition at Jerome is an example of how we were able to provide students with almost 70,000 square feet of new permanent classroom space so that they no longer have to use aging modular classrooms. But even with the new addition, it now appears to be a short-term solution. Fortunately, each levy is an opportunity, as a community, to understand how we can best meet the needs of our students. As we grow, flexibility, communication, and community support are critical.”

The Board of Education plans to take the second step to officially place the request on the November ballot at its next meeting, currently scheduled for Monday, July 17. 

“We are going to be intentional in how we communicate with our voters. The district will share the budget and enrollment facts with our community. The Board will be transparent on what will happen if the issue passes and what will need to be reduced if the issue is rejected by the voters,” explains Marschhausen. “We’ve waited as long as possible, overcoming a global pandemic in the process, before seeking additional revenue. Now is the time.”