Southeast school district pulled its levy from the November ballot, citing state lawmakers

Photo by Jon Ridinger

Voters in the Southeast Local Schools district will not see Issue 26 on the November ballot after a unanimous Oct. 9 decision by the district’s board of education.

The district had been seeking a 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy, which the county auditor’s office estimated would generate $441,000 a year.

The school board voted July 31 to place the levy on the November ballot.

“Since that time, updated information on how the reappraisal of property values in Portage County may go in 2024 has been received,” Southeast Treasurer Samantha Pochedly said, noting that both the Ohio House and Senate are working on bills to alleviate the effect of potentially dramatic increased appraisals on taxpayers.

“Since there are still many unknowns, the board felt it was not the right time to place a new levy on the ballot,” she said.

Had Issue 26 been on the ballot, and had voters approved it, Pochedly said the funds could have been used for anything that has a useful life over five years: school buses, technology and technology upgrades, building improvements, repairs and more.

Approval of Issue 26 would have given Southeast schools its first general improvement levy, she said, noting that the district has been able to fund capital expenditures through its general fund. That state of affairs will continue, as it would have if Issue 26 had failed at the ballot box.

In May 2022, BSHM Architects, which the school district hired to assess needs, concluded that Southeast needed almost $11 million in various improvements: just over $2 million for heating systems, almost $2.6 million in roofing, $1 million in walls and chimneys, $1.3 million in general finishes and almost $1.7 million for construction contingencies and non-construction costs.

Southeast Superintendent Bob Dunn could not be reached for comment. School board President Mary Kaley echoed Pochedly’s comments, saying the proposed legislation, “along with so many unknowns,” prompted the board to pull Issue 26 from the ballot.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.