Great Oaks renewal levy to be on ballot

By Megan Neary -

Great Oaks Career Campuses will have a renewal levy on this November’s general election ballot. The levy does not request any additional funds from taxpayers, it simply requests that the current 2.7-mill operating levy be renewed at the same amount.

In the past, this 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 officials.

Great Oaks serves 36 Ohio school districts, including Washington Court House City Schools and Miami Trace Local Schools. 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.

According to a brochure, Great Oaks teaches “the skills that students need for success in careers and college,” and “classes are available for a wide range of student needs.”

Students can focus on learning the skills necessary for a wide range of careers, including: welding, cosmetology, health technology, and many more.

Snyder 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,” he 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.

Jon Weidlich, community relations director at Great Oaks, said 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.

Fayette County Commissioner Tony Anderson said that “vocational education is back to being really important.” He also said that recent changes in the local schools have made Great Oaks a more viable option for many students.

For example, Great Oaks students are now permitted to participate on their local school’s sports teams. In addition, the switch away from block scheduling has made it more feasible to allow students to spend half a day at Great Oaks.

By Megan Neary

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

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