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Columbus school board delays levy and bond issue that was slated for November ballot

Columbus Board of Education building on April 15, 2020.
David Holm

The Columbus Board of Education has put off plans to place a permanent improvement levy and temporary bond issue on the November ballot.

The levy campaign came as the district remains mired in a public and sometimes ugly labor fight with the teachers’ union.

Speaking at the Tuesday meeting, board member Carol Beckerle did not mention the contract fight with teachers. She called it a sad moment to put off the ballot issue and was long overdue. Beckerle also said it’s the right decision.

“It has to do with community dynamics of other sorts. We have to be in this together for this to succeed and we’re not there right now. And that’s really, really unfortunate for our kids,” Beckerle said.

The $680 million bond issue would have covered the cost to build the first five schools in the district’s new facilities master plan. The first five projects planned include:

  • A new high school on the current site of Marion-Franklin High School
  • A new high school on the current site of Beechcroft High School
  • A new middle school on the current site of Mifflin Middle School
  • A new elementary school on the current site of Winterset Elementary School
  • A new elementary school on the current site of Eakin Elementary School

The 4.7 mill levy would have funded ongoing maintenance at existing schools.
Combined they would have increased property taxes by about 13%.

Board members said they’re committed to pursuing the levy when the timing is right.

“We know we want, when we do this, everyone to stand with us for our children. And so we will bring this back. We are committed to that. Because this is the solution,” board president Jennifer Adair said.