The Ohio Supreme Court decided on Monday that the previously invalidated petition of Jamie Cook, one of the individuals petitioning to leave the Bowling Green City Schools district, will be on the special election ballot Aug. 4.
That final petition from residents wanting to transfer to another school system was accepted by the school board on May 8, but it did not meet the deadline to be placed on the August ballot.
The school district was sued for what the plaintiff said was a delay in action.
The board met May 8 to accept the petition, which was previously rejected, and sent it to the Ohio Board of Education and the Wood County Board of Elections.
Cook, of Custar, filed a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court. He was one of the signers of the petition.
The resubmitted petition fixes an unattached island that appeared on its previous version. That island caused it to be rejected because it did not meet the contiguous school district requirements. It is a transfer from Milton Township to the Patrick Henry Local Schools.
Cook, in his complaint, does not dispute why the petition was rejected.
The lawsuit, filed May 11, claimed the school district delayed approving the petition, which put it as the only petition to be on the Nov. 3 ballot.
With the decision handed down Monday by the Ohio Supreme Court, the petition will be on the Aug. 4 ballot with the other six petitions.
The Wood County Board of Elections legal council is determining the next step, if any, said Director Terry Burton.
“We were prepared no matter what. We were preparing for whatever legal decision was issued,” Burton said.
The Wood County Auditor’s Office is in the process of determining the additional land parcels that will be part of the election. That list will then be sent to the Wood County Board of Elections for ballot purposes.
The property tax implications of the additional petition will not be known until the parcels are determined.
As for additional voters on Election Day, that is also unknown right now, according to Burton. Just because a parcel of land is included in the petition, does not mean it is residential property and the voter is registered at that location.
“You have to be a registered voter at that address to qualify. Much of what is highlighted is farmland and not residential,” Burton said.
Oestreich said he is assisting the board of elections.
“We’re working close with the board of elections. We try to help them and they try to help us. They’re trying to determine all the voters and we’re trying to help them do that. We’ve been making maps for them and all that type of thing,” Oestreich said.
Oestreich said that the school district is set to potentially lose a total of $1.5 million, while the total property tax gains would be $1.15 million. The total assessed values of the six properties
Oestreich said vocational education would also be affected by the new petition.
The new petitioned area would change to Patrick Henry Local Schools, if that petition was passed on election day and Patrick Henry decided to accept the petition to join the district.
Patrick Henry vocational education students attend Four County Career Center in Archbold, which would then get the tax money associated with those land parcels. Currently, with Bowling Green schools, those dollars go to Penta Career Center.
The Wood County District Public Library is also affected by petitions. It is the only county entity whose property tax collections are tied to another political entity.
The six petitions that are already on the ballot would affect the library if they leave Bowling Green, because there are libraries serving the Eastwood, Elmwood and Otsego school districts.
Losses from parcels switching to Patrick Henry would not affect the Wood County District Public Library. This is because the Patrick Henry sections of Wood County are also within the WCDPL coverage because they are not served by another library system.
The assessed value of the six current petitioned properties does not include the public utility value of the pipeline and solar fields that might be lost from BGCS, should their geographic areas become part of a new school district. That value would be determined by the state.
The courts also decided that BGCS would pay court fees.