This is NOT a new tax. The science center is requesting a renewal of their current five-year, one-sixth (.17) mill property tax levy. This levy will continue to cost just $5.13 per $100,000 in residential value annually, or less than 2¢ per day. Imagination Station’s levy renewal is the smallest on the 2016 Lucas County General Election Ballot. Passage this November will not result in any additional funds for Imagination Station or increase your taxes. This is simply a renewal of the needed funds the science center already receives in order to continue offering the residents of Lucas County outstanding learning opportunities. Issue 21.
Funds generated from the 2016 levy renewal will total approximately $1.15 million, which represents about 27% of the science center’s annual budget. Since Imagination Station’s request to be placed on the 2016 ballot, Lucas County Auditors published a new report estimating an additional $150,000 annual decrease in expected levy funds starting January 2017, dropping the total funding expected to approximately $1.15 million. Imagination Station will assume the responsibility for the difference and is NOT requesting any additional funds.
Funds generated from the renewal of the existing levy will be used to promote the sciences with Imagination Station’s exhibits, facilities, day-to-day operations, programs and capital improvements. The expenses of bringing in traveling exhibitions, maintaining permanent exhibits, operating the facility and providing visitors with hands-on activities, are all integral to carrying out the science center’s mission to serve the community by providing informal science education and fun in order to spark a passion for the sciences by combining interactive exhibits and educational programming.
As a non-profit, service-oriented organization, payroll expenses for hourly employees are necessary for providing lasting inspirational experiences both on-site and off-site, developing programs and education materials, while keeping the facility clean and maintained. These expenses are not fully covered by the public funds received. The science center, however, has been covering them with operating revenue (admissions, memberships, programs, contributed revenue and sponsorships) and plans to continue to cover this difference in the future.
Historically, voter turnout is at its highest for presidential elections, which allows for more voter representation from the community that is served. Renewal funds will not be collected until 2018 – after the initial levy is expires in 2017. Early passage of the renewal levy will allow for future experiences, maintain fiscal responsibility, ensure all public funding is used at its highest efficiency and allow for ample planning for traveling exhibitions.
If the 2016 levy renewal does not pass, Imagination Station will be able to respond to voter concerns and seek a levy renewal in the November 2017 general election.
More than 90% of science centers across the nation depend on some form of public funding, and Imagination Station is no different. Since 2012, Imagination Station has grown other sources of revenue so that levy funds represent only 27% of their total operating budget. Admission, membership sales, contributed revenue, programs and other activities account for the other 73%. This has enabled them to continue with renewals of the same millage despite a significant shortfall in levy dollars from original expectations due to reduced property valuations. The science center would not be able to continue operations at the current level without levy funding.
The levy passage has enabled Imagination Station to provide residents of Lucas County with:
Free admission every Saturday for residents 12 and under with the purchase of an adult admission
- Free admission every Saturday for residents 12 and under with the purchase of an adult admission
- $1.50 discount on admission daily
- Discounts on school group visits for Lucas County residents
More than 90% of science centers across the nation receive a form of public funding. Imagination Station ranks ahead of its peers in key metrics commonly applied to museums and science centers. Imagination Station’s average cost per visitor is $17.84 as compared to the ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) 2014 Data Survey that reported the average cost per visitor being $19.35.
Since 2008, Imagination Station has increased employment to 25 full-time team members and, on average, 50 part-time team members. Part-time team member totals fluctuate according to the season and the need. Imagination Station also maintains a roster of 85 active volunteers.
Imagination Station is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. For a list of our board click here.
In the last seven years, more than 1.4 million visitors, nearly 40% of which were from Lucas County, have explored Imagination Station’s 80,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with hundreds of hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations and engaging experiences. Of those, more than 169,800 visits were from schoolchildren utilizing the science center as an extension of their classroom. Additionally, more than 48,400 Lucas County students have been impacted by Imagination Station’s educational efforts through outreach programs.
Imagination Station’s top five Memberships Counties:
- Lucas 45%
- Wood 15%
- Monroe 7%
- Wayne 5%
- Hancock 3%
Imagination Station is a valuable resource and a critical investment in Toledo’s future for families, schools and the. Students who are exposed to real-world science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences that are not possible within the classroom are more likely to have significant, long-term increases in their achievement and attitudes towards the sciences.
- Families – Imagination Station offers families an opportunity to learn together while, exploring the science center, asking questions and sharing in the educational process, all while spending quality time together. Imagination Station’s ever-changing list of exciting events and activities gives families something new to do every time they visit. New exhibits, experiences and events keep the science center fresh and engaging.
- Schools – Imagination Station serves as an extension of the classroom, offering teachers valuable, academically aligned exhibit guides to enhance their students’ visit. Additionally, Imagination Station offers a wealth of inquiry-based activities on their website for use in the classroom or at home. All jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of STEM fields. The science center's informal science education can have a strong impact on STEM education throughout the community and prepares individuals for the 21st century workforce.
- Community – Imagination Station is committed to being a responsible steward of the Northwest Ohio community. The science center actively participates in community growth opportunities, educational partnerships and community involvement. Each month, Imagination Station can be found at various community events providing educational activities, demonstrations and learning opportunities.
Meeting Imagination Station’s mission to serve the community by providing informal science education and fun in order to spark a passion for the sciences by combining interactive exhibits and educational programming.
Imagination Station is committed to growing program offerings in a responsible, sustainable way. That is why programs have been introduced over time to meet the needs of multiple audiences including children, educators, families and scouts. These include:
- Outreach - Recognizing the limited transportation budgets in many school districts, Imagination Station features extensive outreach program offerings, including Science Festivals, Workshops-on-Wheels andSTARLAB, which bring science education to the schools. Outreach programs have impacted more than 18,500 Lucas County students since Imagination Station opened.
- Science Weeks – Each year, in collaboration with national initiatives and working with local partners, Imagination Station features special science weeks that deliver specific science content to visitors through fun, interactive activities. These weeks include:
- Summer Camps – Now in its sixth season, Imagination Station’s summer camp program has increased attendance by almost 400%, expanded to two offsite locations in 2014 and will offer four exciting themes to choose from this year – Young MacGyver, Taste of Tinkering, Behind the Mask: Superhero Science and Super Splatter Science.
- Scout Badge Programs – To help Scout troops reach their badge and belt loop requirements, Imagination Station hosts Scout Badge workshops that engage the scouts and inspire them to achieve their goals while having fun.
- Family Workshops – Learning together as a family offers a unique opportunity for parents to interact with their children and observe how they learn. Family Workshops are also a great way for families to spend quality time together.
- Educator Resources –In addition to meeting the needs of younger visitors, Imagination Station delivers a range of professional development for educators that include:
- Educational Partnerships – Imagination Station is an active member of the educational community and has partnered with the University of Toledo, Lucas County Schools including Sylvania Public Schools and Toledo Public Schools, Lourdes University, Bowling Green State University, Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence in STEM Education (NWO) and WGTE to deliver professional development and programming.
Imagination Station specializes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming and is equipped to help children discover the world around them through hands-on activities. Educators know that some of the best learning doesn’t always fit inside a classroom and that’s why they are considered an educational partner in Lucas County and Northwest Ohio. Further, offering teachers powerful tools to effectively teach science in the classroom is a responsibility that Imagination Station takes seriously.
According to the Status of Elementary School Science Teaching Report, elementary school teachers do not feel equally qualified to teach all academic subjects, with preparedness to teach science as being the most lacking of the disciplines (compared to mathematics, language arts and social studies).2 Imagination Station works with teachers to provide the resources necessary to facilitate engaging, STEM based activities for the classroom.
Less than one-third of elementary teachers report feeling very well qualified to teach each of the science disciplines. More grade K-5 teachers stated feeling very well qualified to teach life science and earth science than physical science, which is consistent with teacher reports of their college coursework.2
Additionally, three-fourths of teachers perceive a need to deepen their science content knowledge through professional development2, an educational resource available to teachers at Imagination Station.
The levy committee is fundraising for the 2016 levy campaign through businesses and private citizens. There are so many ways to support us through being a volunteer, offering a financial donation or even simply requesting a yard sign.
To mail a donation: The Committee for Science for Kids, Attention: Jason Mueller, Treasurer, 1000 Jackson Street, Toledo, Ohio 43604
- Offer your endorsement – Write a letter of support stating your or your organization’s endorsement of the science center’s levy renewal.
- Volunteer – Visit imaginationstationtoledo.org to request a yard sign or find out how to get your group or organization involved in keeping Imagination Station in the community.
- Make a contribution – Funds for the 2016 levy campaign are being provided by private donation. Please send contributions by mail: The Committee for Science for Kids, Attention: Jason Mueller, Treasurer, 1000 Jackson Street, Toledo, OH 43604
- Vote – Every vote counts! Early voting begins October 12 and Election Day is November 8, 2016. Visit co.lucas.oh.us for your polling information.
1Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Fastest growing occupations, 2004-14, http://www.bls.gov/emp/emptab21.htm
2Status of Elementary School Science Teaching, 2000 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education