On May 2, the renewal of a levy that brings in $3.9 million of Findlay City Schools’ general fund will be up for vote. With no other issues on the ballot to draw people to the polls, the Hull and Patterson families urge supporters to take notice and take action.
“I feel like life is so busy, and as much as I love the schools, I could easily let this go right past me if it weren’t for Matt being on the committee,” explained Julie Hull, wife of Matt Hull, Findlay City Schools levy committee co-chair. “Every vote counts and we really need people to get out there.”
The 3.9 mill continuous renewal operating levy will not raise existing taxes. Renewal would also preserve a rollback credit from the State of Ohio which currently funds 12.5 percent of a residential homeowners’ property taxes. Barring renewal, the state will no longer pay the credit for homeowners worth about $345,000 of the district budget. Money generated by the levy goes into the district’s $61.6 million general fund, which is used for “day to day” operations such as bus utilization and teacher salaries. The levy was originally passed in 2004.
Matt Hull, an insurance agent for UIS Insurance, is a Findlay High School graduate (‘98) and moved away for college and his first job. He met Julie, and when they were married and wanted to raise a family, the Hulls were drawn back to Findlay. The same holds true for Levy Committee Co-chair Dr. Amber Patterson (‘98), and her husband, Ben (‘92). Amber is an allergist and Ben a representative for the Juice Plus Company. Education was a big part of their return.
“After we had our fourth child, life just got busier and busier and we wanted to be closer to family,” Amber said. “We were gone about 20 years so when we came back we took a look at all of the area schools, Van Buren, Liberty Benton, St. Mike’s…all of them. When it came down to it, Findlay City Schools was the best option for our family.”
The Pattersons’ oldest son, Reid, is in sixth grade at Donnell Middle School. Their daughters Lena, 8, and Cara, 5, attend Lincoln Elementary and are in second grade and kindergarten, respectively. Youngest son, Hugh, 2, will be joining the ranks soon.
Right now, the Hulls and Pattersons say FCS is delivering a first-class education. Programs are available for kids at each end of the learning spectrum – from kids who need an individualized education program to those who are gifted. Hearing impaired assistance is available as well as a strong English as a Second Language program. Such diversity is wonderful and encourages the kids to be sensitive to people different than themselves, Amber explained. Ben noted that the Patterson girls know sign language.
“I can’t get over sometimes when (my son) comes home and talks about his friends from Egypt or Turkey,” Julie said. “It’s amazing, just unbelievable. I think it’s so great.”
The Hulls’ son, Cole, 8, is a second-grader at Whittier Elementary. Their daughter, Felicity, 5, attends Washington Preschool. Julie loves the preschool program adding that parents pay up front, but if their child completes through first grade in Findlay, the preschool cost is reimbursed. The Hulls also have a son, Alex, who is 18-mo. old.
“Our kids love school and I’m so thankful for that,” Julie said, emphatically. “They never complain about going. There is always something different and exciting every week.”
Amber agreed, “They’re learning, they’re motivated. It’s such a good balance of work, school and home.”
The Hulls and Pattersons know their kids are developing the same inherent pride in their school that is still with each of their parents today. Matt and Ben were brought up all the way through the ranks in Findlay. And while all of the Findlay public schools are now represented by the Trojan mascot, each school had its own when Matt and Ben were kids. That rivalry lives on.
“That’s right,” Matt said laughing. “I was a Bigelow Hill Blue Knight.”
“Oh, but I’m a Northview Viking,” Ben said, smiling.
The families are hoping to keep it that way and encourage voters to support the school levy on May 2 or through absentee voting, which begins April 4. To absentee vote, visit hancockboardofelections.com or stop at the Board of Elections, 201 E. Lincoln St., in the back.
“I hope people see the value in Findlay City Schools, that it’s an investment in our future,” Amber said. “It’s important that every child have the opportunity to an excellent education regardless of whether their parents can pay for that. Every vote is so important. Please don’t assume it’ll just pass. Go out and vote.”