GRAHAM LOCAL SCHOOLS Levy Frequently Asked Questions
Why has the school board placed a ballot issue for our schools?
Graham is considering a levy because we have cut and reduced as much as possible. Now, our teachers need more resources so that our Graham students do not fall behind. The need is so real that the Board and district have stated that this is the single most important issue facing our schools right now.
What have we done over the years to cut costs?
A lot. We have cut, reduced and stretched our budget. In fact, we eliminated $2.35 million from our budget in 2011 and 2012. At that time, we lost 24 teachers along with other support and administrative staff and we cut our academics. In fact, we haven’t asked for new monies in 7 years and have not passed an issue for new money in 24 years.
What has been cut and reduced so far?
We eliminated 24 teachers, staff and administrators from our budget. In fact, we now have fewer administrators than our peer school districts.
Our teachers and staff have shared in the sacrifice of our district’s tough economic times, helping to save over $9 million over a four-year period by accepting changes to salary and benefit plans.
How does our tax rate compare with other school systems around us?
Our operating tax rate is lower than every district in a seven county area, including: Champaign, Clark Logan, Madison and Miami Counties. Even with the passage of a levy, we will still be among the lowest in the seven county area.
Will the district continue to live within their means?
Absolutely. Operating in a lean and frugal manner is what we do at Graham. We work hard to send money directly to the classroom for teaching and programs for students. In fact, we spend less on administration than the state average and that we have fewer administrators than our peer school districts.
What kind of levy is the district pursuing?
Graham is considering a 1% earned income tax ballot issue for November 7. The district needs additional operating dollars. Operating dollars pay for operating costs, including up to date technology and classrooms, textbooks, lab materials, science programming, and would be used to directly support the classroom for students.
When will voters see an issue on the ballot for our schools?
The board has approved an issue for the November 2017 ballot.
What would a levy fund?
A levy would maintain the current quality of teaching and provide important opportunities; Opportunities like additional science, technology and academic programs. It’s been 24 years since we passed a levy for new operating funds and we have cut, reduced and stretched our funds. Now, that is no longer enough. In order to make sure our Graham students and community is competitive we must act now to protect our teaching and programs.
What if the levy fails?
The need does not go away with failure, it only delays it and worsens it and potentially makes it more expensive for everyone later on. In fact, if we do not secure additional funds then it hits to our ability to provide the current quality of education and it jeopardizes our fiscal stability, and our students’ ability to compete.
When will we officially know when we are on the ballot?
The Board of Education will take its second vote to secure a ballot issue on June 26 for the November 2017 ballot.
Please explain what funding was used to pay for the transportation building? Can you provide a detailed financial analysis about buying and building the transportation facility with the funds left over from the bonds to build the new facilities versus using the unspent proceeds to pay down the bonds upon the first call date?
Former Treasurer Mr. Bob Hoover provided insight into the Board’s intentions regarding the transportation facility. He indicated that in fiscal year 2002, Anthem gave the district over $600,000 in stocks, as they changed from a privately held to publicly held corporation, and Graham was a longtime customer of Anthem. The Board sold the stock (as it is not permissible for public entities to hold stocks) and had the funds put into a permanent improvement fund which was earmarked for facility improvements or new construction.
The district worked with the State of Ohio to be part of the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program (CFAP). The State of Ohio paid 56% of the projected $36.5 million project to build the Elementary, and the local share was 44%. Residents passed a levy for the local share of $13,575,000 on May 3, 2005. The administration at the time felt the construction could be completed for less which is why the board only asked for a $13,575,000 bond issue. The State of Ohio required the district to have on hand enough funds to offset what they calculated the local’s share to be of $16,060,000. The district used the funds of $600,000 as collateral in order to move forward with the CFAP. Once the project was closed out, the State refunded the remaining balance which included the funds which were put up for collateral by the Board.
The board knew that is was not feasible to maintain the old school building as the transportation facility. The facility had asbestos issues and would have cost the district in excess of $200,000 to demolish. The building no longer met the needs of the district. It was always the intent of the Board to move forward with building a new transportation facility even back in 2005. The funds were not intended to pay down the bond issue.
The remaining balance in the State fund and Local fund after the construction was completed for the elementary was $626,319.48. The Director of Operations had plans drawn up by an architect; however, the estimated cost far exceeded $1.6 million. At that point, the Board decided to look at other options. Staff were directed by the Board to inspect the lumber yard as a possible site rather than build new construction. It was determined that there was sufficient space to house our fleet of buses, including storage, maintenance/ground equipment for our fleet.
The property appraised at $340,000. In April, 2015, the board purchased the property from the Faulkner brothers for $336,500. The remaining funds were used to convert the property into a transportation/maintenance building, including making updates that were required to meet all building standards set by Champaign County. The gas tank was moved onto the new sight. Electric plug-ins were installed for each bus, a security fence was erected to prevent vandalism of our fleet, which had become a significant issue at the old location. We were able to utilize the old office space as is, and constructed walls to create two fireproof storage rooms for record retention, and a conference room for district and community use. The location of the facility is much cheaper to maintain and operate than the old building in town. The facility is also more secure, and our buses do not need to cross the railroad tracks multiple times a day to leave from and return to the bus lot.
How does the CAUV adjustment impact Graham’s budget?
Graham will once again lose funding due to the state’s new formulation factors with CAUV.
Last update August 9, 2017