The Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) Board of Education held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss several resolutions as they consider once again putting a levy on the ballot.
As previously reported, the WCHCS 1 percent income tax levy for operating funds failed on Nov. 5 at the general election. The Fayette County Board of Elections certified the final vote totals in mid-November and the final vote count for the WCHCS income tax levy was 1,244 (50.65 percent) against the tax and 1,212 (49.35 percent) for the tax.
According to WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communications Trevor Patton, the purpose of the meeting on Wednesday was to approve resolutions to show the need for a potential levy and the board has not decided if or when it should go on the ballot yet.
“The five resolutions on Wednesday allow the Board to continue the process of researching the options in case they do decide to vote to go on the ballot,” Patton wrote in an email Thursday. “The reason that there were five resolutions was in order to keep all options open to the Board. These five resolutions represent the five potential ways that revenue could be collected in the event that they do decide to return to the ballot, which the Board will work with the community to gather opinions towards the best way to move forward. The Board has until May 6, 2020 to make a decision.”
Patton said that over the next week, a survey will be coming via telephone call to randomly-selected community members so they can give their input on the levy. He emphasized that the opinions and input of the community are important to the district, so they ask that those called please complete the survey.
“We ask that community members be completely honest with their answers, as we will best learn from genuine responses,” Patton said. “These responses will help the Board better determine their decision whether to return to the ballot or not, as well as what type of levy to propose. It is important to note that all numbers called will be generated by random, and all answers will remain anonymous.”
Patton also shared statistics from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Cupp Report — which is available online and includes information such as tax data, demographics, personnel data and much more for Ohio school districts — that explained on average, Ohio schools spend $11,953 per pupil in operational expenditures, and WCHCS only spends $9,202. Additionally, small town districts spend $10,648 per pupil. WCHCS spends $2,751 less per student than the state average, and $1,446 less than average small schools in Ohio.
The average Frontier Athletic Conference (the league Washington Court House is a member of) expenditure per pupil is $10,609, which WCHCS spends $1,407 less than. Jackson is the closest in spending per student at $10,370, which WCHCS is still $1,168 less than. Patton noted that this was not because WCHCS doesn’t want to invest in the education of the students; this is because WCHCS has less revenue than the surrounding schools by $1 million, therefore the district has less ability to spend on students. Also according to the ODE, the average school is on the ballot for operations revenue every three to five years.
“The Board of Education is being diligent in keeping the process moving for a potential levy,” WCHCS Superintendent Tom Bailey said. “WCHCS has not seen an increase in taxes for operations in 29 years and our students deserve to be offered the same opportunities as students in our comparison districts.”
The information in this article was provided by WCHCS Director of Marketing and Communications Trevor Patton and the Ohio Department of Education Cupp Report. Stay with the Record-Herald in print and online as more information becomes available.
Reach Martin Graham on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.