FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q: What is on the Nov. 8 ballot for Pickerington Schools?
A: Pickerington Schools has an $89.930 million bond issue on the November 8 ballot. This bond issue is the leanest request possible to meet the facility needs of the district. The bond issue is more than $5 million lower than similar requests that occurred in November of 2020 and May of 2021, and does not include any upgrades to extracurricular spaces or facilities.
Q: Why now?
A: The proceeds from the bond issue will be used to address the rapid growth in student population by constructing new facilities and renovating and expanding existing facilities. District enrollment is forecasted to increase by nearly 1,000 students by the 2027-28 school year, and nearly every building in the district will be over capacity by that time.
Q: What will the levy cost me?
A: The district estimates that the passage of this levy will not increase tax rates (measured in mills) for our residents. The County Auditor has estimated that the $89.930 million bond issue will require 2.80 mills for debt payments. But because property valuations are increasing by at least 25% for 2022, and due to the structure of the proposed new debt, we forecast that the County Auditor will actually be able to decrease tax rates by ½ of a mill.
The tax rate collected by the district to pay debt payments has decreased as outstanding debt has been retired or refunded for better interest rates, and as valuation has increased. The following chart shows how the cost of the tax rate has changed since the 2015 tax year, and what that rate is forecasted to be in the 2022 tax year (which will first be paid in 2023). Note that the forecasted tax rates in 2022 (paid in 2023) include the proposed 2.80 mills for the November 8, 2022 bond issue.
Q: What do we get if the ballot issue passes?
A: The district’s capital plan, which includes the proceeds from the $89.930 million bond issue, will be used to:
Build a new junior high schools that can hold up to 1,300 students
Renovate all of Ridgeview JH to convert to a building holding separate K-4 Elementary and 5-6 Middle Schools; 8th elementary holds about 450 elementary students, 4th middle school holds about 450 middle school students
Add 24 additional classrooms at Central HS holding up to 650 students; upgrade the cafeteria, holding 200 additional students; install secure entryways
Add 18 additional classrooms to North HS holding up to 470 additional students; install secure entryways
Renovate and upgrade multiple elementary schools to accommodate growth
Q: What will happen if this ballot issue does not pass?
A: Alternatively, if the bond issue does not pass, the district will need to enact measures to deal with crowded schools. All of the following measures may be employed:
redrawing district boundaries;
temporary learning spaces (e.g. modulars).
All of these measure impact the delivery and effectiveness of education in the district. They are also not as safe (modulars) or create environmental concerns. Finally, these measures are operationally more expensive than capital expenditures, which would further strain our current forecast to forgo any operational levies for at least the next 2 school years. And these negative impacts to the schools also adversely impact the community and the value of homes in our community.
Q: How did the district come up with this plan?
A: This plan was developed as part of Pickerington’s Plan for Progress, a plan that was created with the help of hundreds of staff and community members. It’s the community’s plan for the future. It lays out what the district must continue to do to remain on a path to providing an excellent education to each student. It reflects resident and staff input and priorities and is focused on our three main goals: academic excellence, modern facilities, and efficient operations.
Q: Where will this new junior high school be located?
A: The new junior high would be constructed on the approximately 66-acre parcel of land owned by the district on Lockville Road, south of Opportunity Way (adjacent to the Pickerington High School Central campus), while Ridgeview Junior High would be repurposed into a K-6 facility for Heritage Elementary and Gateway Elementary students.
Q: Hasn’t the pandemic slowed down home construction in our area?
A: No, it actually has not slowed down. New home construction in Pickerington remains strong and while new housing growth brings more students, it also brings more property owners to share in the tax base.
Q: How has Pickerington Schools handled its finances?
A: Pickerington Schools continues to stretch its operating resources making sure to direct funds where they have the greatest impact on student achievement.
Q: What happened with the governor’s reduction in state school funding and how does it affect the school district?
A: Pickerington Schools’ state funding was reduced by $1,725,378 at the end of the 2019-20 school year. This amounted to approximately 3.2% of our annual state funding. During the potential economic impact of the coronavirus, the district responded with sound, conservative financial practices such as stopping all non-essential purchases, freezing budgets and finding additional reductions with the least amount of impacts on students. Pickerington Schools saved local taxpayers more than $16 million recently by bond refunding. The district has also saved funds by switching to a self-insurance plan, leaving third-party insurance companies and taking the average premium increase from 8.69% to 4.32%.Pickerington Schools is committed to making all financial information available to its taxpayers in a timely and transparent manner.
Q: What bond issues are outstanding and what have we paid off?
A: PLSD paid off the library in December of 2016 and Tussing Elementary School in December, 2015. At Diley and Harmon Middle Schools, we have an outstanding principal of about $1,974,709. This will be paid off (assuming no refundings) by December of 2025.
Pickerington High School North and Lakeview Junior High, there is an outstanding principal of about $42,390,291, which will be paid off (assuming no refundings) by December of 2026. At Toll Gate Elementary, Toll Gate Middle School, and Sycamore Creek Elementary, the outstanding principal is about $39,215,000, which will be paid off (assuming no refundings) by December 2034. PLSD’s total outstanding principal/debt as of June 30, 2020 is $83,580,000.
Q: Did the district receive funds from the CARES Act?
Q: How can I support the Levy?
A: Find out up to 50 ways you can support the levy in this PDF of ideas. Also, you can click the button below:
Q. Will the State of Ohio help with funding for the capital projects?
A. The district has partnered with the OFCC in the past to build or renovate most buildings in the district. We have also executed a Project Agreement (PA) with the OFCC for these projects so that the items addressed in the capital plan, including the $89.930 million bond issue, will count as the district’s share of the OFCC Master Plan for the district. By passing this $89.930 million bond issue, the district will qualify for approximately $75 million in future funding from the OFCC to address future capital needs at:
Tussing Elementary School
Harmon Middle School
Diley Middle School
Lakeview Junior High
North High School
Q: How has Pickerington Schools handled its finances?
A: Pickerington Schools continues to stretch its operating resources making sure to direct funds where they have the greatest impact on student achievement. The district has also shown fiscal responsibility in securing future state funding for a portion of the projects, should the bond issue pass.
School Finance Definitions
A bond levy is a levy that allows the district to issue debt to build or improve buildings. It is a “bricks and mortar” levy. Bond levies cannot be used to pay staff or utilities or any other operating expenses. Bond levies are used to build buildings but cannot be used to operate the new buildings. Bond issues cannot pay for ongoing maintenance.
Regular Operating Levy
An operating levy funds the day-to-day operations of the district. It can be used for salaries, instructional supplies, textbooks, transportation costs, maintenance and upkeep, etc. The millage rate is submitted to voters for approval, not the dollar amount. The millage rate is adjusted down as property values increase. It can be for a limited amount of time or continuing.
An emergency levy funds the day-to-day operations of the district. It can be used for salaries, instructional supplies, textbooks, transportation costs, maintenance and upkeep, etc. This type of levy is submitted to the voters as a dollar amount. An emergency levy can only be voted in for a period of one to ten years.
Permanent Improvement Levy
Permanent improvement levies are for projects and equipment that have a useful life of five years or more. New roofs, renovations, and school busses are assets that fall into this category.
Real Estate Taxes
This is a tax levied on land and buildings located within the school district. Individuals and businesses pay this tax on the property they own. Two key components in calculating real estate taxes are the taxable or assessed value (market value x 35%) of the property and the millage rate.
The market value is the estimated sales value of the property. For purposes of real estate taxes, the county auditor determines the market value of all of the property in the county. The county auditor then calculates the taxable/assessed value for each property.
Taxable value and assessed value are different terminologies for the same thing.
The taxable value is determined by taking 35% of the market value of the property. For example, a home that would have a market value of $100,000 would have a taxable value of $35,000.
Re-appraisal and Triennial Update
The county auditor is responsible for assigning a market value for all of the individual properties in the county. Every six years the county auditor appraises all of the properties to determine their market value. This is a re-appraisal. Every three years, the county auditor does an update of the market values based on home sales. This is a triennial update.
Property tax rates are computed in mills. A mill is 1/1000 or .001. One mill cost a property owner $1.00 for every $1,000 of taxable value.
In Ohio, millage is referred to as “inside” millage and “outside” millage. Inside millage is millage provided by the Constitution of the State of Ohio and is levied without a vote of the people. It is called inside millage because it is “inside” the law. Another name would be un-voted millage.The Constitution allows for 10 mills of inside millage in each political subdivision. Public schools, counties, townships, and other local governments are allocated a portion if the 10 inside mills.
Outside millage is any millage “outside” the 10 mills that is provided by the Constitution of the State of Ohio. This millage is voted in by the public. Another name for outside millage is voted millage.
Effective millage is the millage rate that is actually levied on property. Once a levy is voted in, a school district cannot collect any additional money due to valuation increases from reappraisal or triennial update on that levy. As property values increase, the millage rate on that voted levy is decreased so that the levy generates the same amount of money. This reduced millage rate is referred to as effective millage. The only way school districts get any additional money on voted millage is from new construction or from having their millage reduced to the minimum amount allowed by law (20 mill floor).
House Bill 920
During the 1970s property values were increasing at a very high rate. In 1976 the Ohio Legislature enacted House Bill 920. This bill effectively freezes all voted real estate millage at the dollar amount collected the first year the millage went into effect. As property values rise through reappraisal or triennial update, the outside millage is reduced. In simple terms, the amount of money a school district collects from a levy does not increase as property values increase.
20 Mill Floor
As property values increase, voted millage rates are decreased so that school districts don’t collect any additional money on voted millage due to inflation. Over time, millage rates could be reduced to near zero. To keep this from happening, Ohio law establishes a minimum millage level, or floor, that millage rates cannot fall below. This minimum level is 20 mills. Once a district’s total millage is reduced to 20 mills, it cannot be reduced any further, hence the 20 mill floor.
The homestead exemption allows senior citizens whose Ohio adjusted gross income is less than $30,000 to reduce their property taxes by exempting $25,000 of the market value of their home from all local property taxes. The limiting income provision applies only to homeowners who turn 65 beginning in 2014. No homeowner who currently qualifies for the exemption will lose it. To qualify, an Ohio resident must be at least 65 years old or be totally and permanently disabled and own and occupy a home as their principal place of residence. For individuals who own more than one home, the principal place of residence is the home where the person is registered to vote and the person’s place of residence for income tax purposes. Applications for the exemptions are available at the county auditor’s office.