Reprinted courtesy of the Westerville News &
ęCopyright Suburban News Publications, Columbus, Ohio, 2003
Originally published October 1, 2003
More than 100 show up for levy campaign kick-off
By JOHN SHERIDAN
And they're off -- the Westerville City School District officially kicked off its levy campaign Monday at Heritage
Middle School organizing citizens into groups and getting parents fired up to pass the November issue.
"This is an important time in the school district's history," said Rick Bannister, chairman of the district's political
action group Citizens for Schools.
Bannister, a former school board member and president, told the crowd of more than 100 that he is a 30-year district resident
with three children in Westerville.
The group was there to push its three-year, 7.5 mill levy campaign which would raise about $15.9 million a year for the
district and annually raise homeowners taxes about $230 per every $100,000 of valuation. Those in attendance broke out into
small groups assigned to tasks that organizers deem critical to passing the levy, such as communications, yard signs and fund-raising.
The audience was made up of administrators, teachers and parents. Bannister told them the PAC needs to raise about $20,000
to get its message out to the public in order to have a good shot at passing the levy.
Bannister said his group analyzed data from the last levy and determined there were no more "no" votes than during other
levy campaigns, but that there were fewer "yes" votes.
"Our supporters forgot to get out to vote," he said.
Resident Kathy Cocuzzi is in charge of communications for Citizens for Schools. She told the audience the target are the
parents of the district's more than 14,000 students, and that she needed volunteers to distribute fliers to work on the two
mailings. The first mailing will be sent in mid-October. The timing other is contingent on funding.
While the audience applauded as speakers prodded them with enthusiasm and humor, not all were sold the levy.
"They are still not winning us over," said Amy Abrahamsen, a parent with three students in the district who ducked out
of the meeting when the crowd divided into small groups.
Abrahamsen said she could not see supporting the levy when a new district administrator and was hired in at more than $90,000
a year. She was referring to Steve Dackin who was hired as the district's secondary curriculum director after Todd Meyer,
who previously held that post, was named as the principal for the new Westerville
Central High School.
Tombaugh also addressed the audience. He told them if the levy passes, services such as 11th- and 12-grade busing will
be restored, class sizes lowered, and course offerings raised. But if it fails the district will face $8.6 million in cuts
next year including the elimination of another 56 teacher positions.
Terry Wike, a resident who organized the Citizen's Action Group which mailed fliers only days before voting day in May
lampooning the school board and asking voters to punch "no" on the ballot said his group would again be active in trying to
defeat to the levy. "We intend to have a voice," he said via a phone interview.
When asked for specifics he was cryptic in his response. "A campaign is a campaign and you don't play until you are ready,"
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