Levy fails in ACGC school district
GROVE CITY -- Voters in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District voted down a school operating levy by a 110-vote margin on Tuesday. The unofficial vote was 1,053 to 943. Voters in Cosmos and Grove City approved the levy by a 62-vote margin....
GROVE CITY -- Voters in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District voted down a school operating levy by a 110-vote margin on Tuesday.
The unofficial vote was 1,053 to 943.
Voters in Cosmos and Grove City approved the levy by a 62-vote margin. Voters in Atwater, however, voted against the levy by a 101-vote margin.
"Frustrated" was how Superintendet Pamela Kyllingstad summed up her feelings about the election results.
This was the third time in three years, and the second time in three months, that a levy referendum had been held in the district. The previous two levies were also defeated.
This won't be the last levy referendum for ACGC voters, however. School board members had said earlier that if the levy was not approved Tuesday, another election would be scheduled.
Kyllingstad said the earliest another referendum could be held is in November.
There are only "two ways to get revenue," she said, either from the state or local voters. She said it looks "iffy" whether ACGC would benefit from the governor's current education budget proposal.
Given that, she said, the board will have no choice but to put the issues before voters again. The size of the next levy may change to reflect voters' concerns about paying higher taxes.
Tuesday's proposed levy question was a repeat of the question from November's ballot, which was rejected by 187 votes.
Voters were asked to revoke the existing $650-per-pupil-unit operating levy that is set to expire in 2010 and replace it with a new $1,444-per-pupil levy that would expire in seven years. The $1,444 levy would have generated about $380,000 annually in new revenue, starting in 2008.
New revenue generated from the levy is part of the district's plan to get out of statutory operating debt.
The district was placed into statutory operating debt in 2005 because its general fund balance does not meet state guidelines.
The district has also made budget cuts that have included reduction of staff, classes and programs.
The school board had been planning to make budget cuts even if the levy passed. "Now we just look harder at what's on the table," Kyllingstad said. The district's revenue has been negatively affected by declining student population and open enrollment, which allows students to attend schools outside of their home district.
Currently more than 200 students living in the ACGC district attend a different school district. About 80 students use open enrollment to come into ACGC from other school districts.
School administrators have expressed concern that the failure of the levy will mean more students will leave the district, which will reduce revenues even more.
Kyllingstad said there will be more adjustments in secondary classes, but she said parents should be assured that their students will still receive a good education.