GALION — Galion City School district voters are being asked to once again pass a renewal levy that has been on the books since 2001.
The five-year, 7.73 mill levy would generate $1.2 million each year for the district, which represents 5.7-percent of the district’s general fund operating budget.
Superintendent Jennifer Allerding that this levy is not a new request, so no additional money would be paid by taxpayers.
“In 2001 the distinct promised voters that if the levy passed they would not seek additional dollars for a period of 20 years, and I’m proud that we’re sitting here at the 20th year and we’ve honored that promise,” Allerding said. “That’s great for our community. We’re going beyond that 20 years and not seeking any additional dollars at this point.”
Allerding explained that Charlene Parkinson, the district’s chief financial officer and treasurer, has focused on what the district is doing fiscally and improving its position and looking at expenditures to be more fiscally responsible.
“I have worked very hard to cut costs where we can and where it makes sense,” Parkinson said. “We always look at attrition and ask ourselves if this position needs replaced. Since I’m a private industry person, I always ask the question how can we do things more efficiently and effectively.
“I’ve introduced a lot of best practices for data and information that have improved processes — what I would call back office processes — so we aren’t spending so much time shuffling paper and those types of things. And I’ve made every attempt to make sure we have built-up balances in our permanent improvement fund and our maintenance funds to be sure to make sure that when we had a boiler go out, like we did earlier in this fiscal year. That’s a $30,000 expenditure for the district and I had money tucked away in permanent improvements for that type of thing.”
Added Allerding: “With all those cost savings measures and being responsible to make sure we’re in a good situation when things happen, it’s important to know that we’ve been responsible and we’ve been able to operate with those funds coming in as they came in 20 years ago. Our main responsibility is educating children, doing what’s best for our children. While we’re being financially responsible, we’re asking ourselves what’s best for our children in Galion. We want to put our students in the best position where they can move on and do great things and they are responsible within the community … not only in academics, but with the leadership skills are we providing.
“Along with being fiscally responsible, we have been impacted by COVID-19 and impacted by things outside our control,” Allerding said. “Certainly not passing the levy would be a detriment to the district. We want to be competitive. We want Galion to be the district people want to come to. It impacts the values of the homes in our district and we’re striving every day to provide a service to our families and our students and that’s superior service.”
Parkinson noted all of levy money into the general fund which pays all the teachers, their salaries and benefits.
“Our teachers are our major asset for our district,” she said. “That is who we are. We are teachers and a teaching staff. And so to the extent that I try to be sure that a $30,000 boiler isn’t going to put us over the edge, we must make certain our teachers are supported. We want them to feel valued, because they are.
“Then, with the monies that are left over, we try to see how we can improve the curriculum. We spend money on those initiatives to make our students successful from kindergarten to when they are ready to go out into the world as contributing members of our community.”
It was explained that the purpose of the renewal levy is to maintain the current level of operations. The levy has been renewed three times since 2001.
Allerding noted if the levy did not pass this time around they would put it on the spring ballot. If ultimately, the levy didn’t pass, the district would be forced to make cuts to the budget and risk losing programming, advanced placement courses, electives, transportation that exceeds state minimums and high-quality staff members and teachers. Also, Galion City Schools’ students would be denied opportunities that their peers and neighboring districts enjoy.