The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019

VWCS needs wind energy dollars

The Van Wert City School Board believes its community should know the importance of potential wind farm revenue to the school district. Wind revenue would make a substantial difference to operating funds.

VWCS is the largest school district in Van Wert County, serving 2,100 preschool through 12th grade students. Approximately 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, based on family income. The district is one of the largest employers in the county, with more than 400 full and part-time employees. Three revenue sources make up over 90 percent of the operating budget: state school funding (55 percent), local taxpayer-generated school income tax and property taxes equal 35.8 percent. The school district has no control over increases or decreases in the state’s 55 percent state revenue. This funding stream is currently flatlined in the state biennial budget, and future state education budgets remain unpredictable.

The other main sources of revenue are voted levies for school district income tax and property tax. These are not easily influenced by the school district, as district tax payer approval is required for any increase of the school district’s income tax rate or operating funds. The school district doesn’t have the final decision affecting these revenue sources.

VWCS offers the best educational services possible, utilizing current funding. The district hasn’t gone to the voters for additional operating revenue since 2003, as inflationary impact on goods and services has been addressed without going on the ballot.

Why is wind revenue important to VWCS? It would generate additional revenue without increasing taxes for voters. Wind revenue could be a very significant revenue stream, for more than 20 years.

Should wind farms develop further, and depending on the number of turbines located in the VWCS district, VWCS could see up to $672,000 annually in wind revenue. One mil voted in the VWCS district collects $250,000 annually. The impact of wind revenue is clear. Added revenue means a reduced chance of increasing local school taxes.

Included in a proposed amendment changing turbine setbacksby Senator Rob McColley, about 700 voters in the VWCS district would make a decision affecting over 7,000 registered voters in our entire school district. An up or down decision would affect all stakeholders across VWCS.

A telltale sign of a thriving community is its schools. The number of children requiring additional and individualized assistance is growing. School quality is a factor in attracting new business and industry. As the county’s largest school system, VWCS must continue to offer high quality education as well as meet individual student needs.

School safety is foremost in the minds of educators — employment of even one school resource officer would be difficult in the current VWCS operating budget. There are four buildings which could be served by an SRO, making the effectiveness of employing one SRO questionable. When budgets are tight, should safety needs come before basic instructional needs for all students?

Wind revenue is important to VWCS because it would allow the district to continue to meet prudent student and facility needs for a longer period, without going to the voters.

–Van Wert City Board of Education

POSTED: 05/03/18 at 6:57 am. FILED UNDER: Opinions