November 8th Ballot Issues
On June 27, 2022, the Worthington Schools Board of Education voted to place two issues on the Nov. 8 ballot. The decision to place these issues on the ballot came after months of discussion led by our district leadership team with the board, staff and community members.
Worthington projects a positive fund balance for the next four years. However, deficit spending begins this year and escalates annually. This is mainly due to the fact that our district is primarily funded through local property taxes, and Ohio laws prohibit inflationary growth in property tax revenue for school districts. Our last incremental operating levy, approved in 2018, was projected to last four years, and it has. It’s now fully phased in, and because of this Ohio law, our revenue is projected to be flat, while expenses, especially in this inflationary environment along with our increasing enrollment, continue to grow. Although the state implemented a new school funding formula, the net increase to our district, as an above average wealth suburb, is very little. Our projected unreserved fund balance will go from $72 million at the end of the 21-22 school year to only $6 million at the end of 2026. For these reasons, the Board of Education has begun the process to put an incremental operating levy on the ballot this fall. The request is identical to the one approved in 2018 and asks for an additional 2.9 mills next year along with a 2 mill increment each of the following 3 years for a total increase of 8.9 mills over a four-year period. We project this levy will again last at least four years.
Over the past 16 years, Worthington has operated in a fiscally responsible manner. Our annual expenditure growth during this period of time has been 2.58% on average, in line with the average Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment of 2.23% during that time. However, state funding is not keeping pace. Over that same time period, state funding has only grown on average 1.6%, well below inflation and cost of living adjustments.
Incremental operating levies are phased in to meet the needed expenses of the school district, instead of being collected all at one time. This would help fund day-to-day operations for the district, including staffing, utilities, instructional supplies, and services.
The second is a combined bond and permanent improvement issue. The $234 million bond issue would fund Phase 2 of our Master Facilities Plan. As we’ve shared previously, Phase 2 involves renovating and replacing most sections of Thomas Worthington High School, renovating Worthington Kilbourne High School and replacing the natatorium. The changes to Thomas Worthington will include creating a larger cafeteria, while also adding and modernizing science labs and other flexible learning spaces. At Worthington Kilbourne, the upgrades will be centered around allowing more natural light into student areas, installing a new roof, and modernizing the heating and cooling systems.
The permanent improvement ballot issue would help meet the district’s ongoing needs for school buses, maintenance of our facilities, back-end technology, playground equipment, and furniture.
If both issues are passed on Nov. 8, taxes will increase by approximately $203 per $100,000 of appraised home value (per the county auditor, not Zillow!) in year one, and go up by $70 per year per $100,000 of assessed home value for the next three years.
We will share more information about these issues later this summer. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
-Trent Bowers Superintendent
June 9, 2022 - Community Meeting at TWHS
- Presentation: Worthington High School Opportunities
- Summary of audience votes
- Traditional Ivy League Style Examples
- If you were not able to attend the meeting but are interested in providing feedback about potential looks for Thomas Worthington High School, you can fill out this feeback form and return it to Jeff Eble at email@example.com.
Review the Task Force Recommendation
In January 2021, a new community task force was formed in order to determine the path for Phase 2 of our Master Facilities long-term plan.
The community selected the task force. As a district, we sent invitations to a wide range of community groups such as PTA’s, the library, townships, civic organizations, etc… and they determined who would represent their group. The task force will review the plan created by the original task force, they’ll update the data and they will engage the larger community over the next ten months to determine the best next steps for our district.
The Master Facilities Task Force made their recommendations to the Worthington School Board in January 2022. They recommended that Phase 2 of the plan should be a replacement of Thomas Worthington High School and renovations to Worthington Kilbourne High School. This mirrors the original recommendations from Phase 1, but it does not include the replacement of an elementary school. Over the past several years, construction costs have skyrocketed in our region and the cost of high school rebuilds and renovations will far surpass what was expected back in 2018. That said, this is an exciting recommendation!
First, it is a unifying recommendation. After several years of strife and conflict caused by the pandemic and social unrest, all students in Worthington Schools will benefit eventually from high school improvements. Second, this is a necessary recommendation. Thomas Worthington as a physical school does not meet community standards. It lacks space, natural light and doesn’t allow for flexible space necessary for modern learning. Worthington Kilbourne is 30 years old and needs renovation and system upgrades in HVAC, roofing, and additional flexible space. In order for Worthington to remain competitive and a district of choice, these changes need to be addressed.
Obviously, not all needs are able to be addressed right now. We know a third and likely fourth phase of work will be needed over the next decade to address elementary schools. Phases 1 and 2 together will have transformed our 6th-12th grade schools. Elementary will still need to be addressed.
This community-led plan has been presented to our school board and will ultimately be presented to our community as a bond issue, likely at the end of 2022. By phasing the work we are able to maintain our state-mandated debt limits and hopefully make the work more affordable for community members.