Great Oaks renewal levy on ballot

By Tom Barr -

Great Oaks Career Campuses — including the Laurel Oaks campus in Wilmington which serves the Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton and Wilmington school districts — will have a renewal levy on November’s general election ballot.

The levy does not request any additional funds from taxpayers; it requests that the current 2.7-mill operating levy be renewed at the same amount.

In the past, the levy has had to be renewed every 10 years. This time, however, Great Oaks is asking that the operating levy be made continual, according to Jon Weidlich, community relations director.

“We’re asking for the renewal period to be continuous for several reasons,” said Weidlich. “Because this levy also pays for permanent improvements, construction and renovations, in the past we could not finance new capital equipment or building projects for longer than the term of the levy.

“For instance, if we had to do major repairs to a building or make renovations eight years into the 10-year levy cycle, it would all have to be paid for before the levy is renewed. With a continuous levy, we can make renovations or improvements at any time and finance it under better terms.”

Also, ”It locks in the rate for homeowners,” Weidlich said. “Plus, because it is a renewal, property owners will still be able to receive the 10-percent rollback and 2.5-percent exemption. A replacement or new levy doesn’t allow for that.”

“The rate hasn’t changed since 1988, and won’t now,” added Weidlich. “And, this is the only property tax levy that we have. Because it’s two-thirds of our budget, the district would not survive without it.”

Great Oaks President and CEO Harry Snyder said the operating levy makes up two-thirds of Great Oaks’ budget.

The rest of the funding comes primarily from the state of Ohio, with some federal grants making up the remainder.

He said that every one dollar that local taxpayers contribute to Great Oaks results in a return value of three dollars to the local economy.

“There’s a lot of different ways that economic impact happens through a school system,” Snyder said.

Some ways in which money invested by local taxpayers into Great Oaks returns to the local economy is through Great Oaks expenditures on everything from building renovations to staff.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that graduates are qualified for well-paying jobs, he said. Those graduates who stay local then stimulate the local economy when they spend their earnings.

Weidlich added that one of the benefits of Great Oaks is that, “Together, all those school districts can offer those opportunities to their students that they wouldn’t be able to offer on their own.

“For example, students at Great Oaks have access to heavy machinery, which most school districts could not afford to provide to their students on their own.“

By Tom Barr

Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2

Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2