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Upcoming Primary Has Most School Funding Measures On Ballot Since 2010

By Jeanie Lindsay, IPB News | Published on in Education, Government, Politics
South Bend Community Schools is asking voters to approve two referendum measures: one focused on construction and one for general operations. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)
South Bend Community Schools is asking voters to approve two referendum measures: one focused on construction and one for general operations. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

More than a dozen school districts in Indiana are asking voters to approve funding for construction projects, general operating costs, or both, during the June 2 primary.

School districts across the state are asking voters to approve a total of 18 referendum questions. A referendum allows schools to collect a certain amount of property tax funding above the property tax caps put in place by lawmakers in 2008.

The list includes South Bend and Hanover community schools, as well as Union Township Schools in Porter County.

New Albany-Floyd County Schools are seeking approval for the state’s second-ever safety referendum, meanwhile Fort Wayne Community Schools is the only district seeking support for just construction funding.

It’s the largest round of referendum proposals seen at one time since 2010.

Executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, Denny Costerison says the pandemic has made getting information to voters more challenging than usual, and schools have had to modify their outreach strategies.

“All this planning was done well before anyone had even heard of COVID-19,” he says.

And funding will likely be tricky for more schools as the COVID-19 recession begins to take shape.

Purdue professor and economist Larry DeBoer says schools will see the COVID-19 recession’s full effect on property tax revenue in 2022. And if property values go down, approved referendum measures might not make schools as much money as they planned.

“School budgets are going to be stressed in both their major revenue sources, property taxes growing a little less rapidly, referendums delivering a little less money than expected,” he says.

The primary is scheduled for Tuesday, June 2.

Construction

Beech Grove City School Corporation, Marion County
Property tax rate: $0.25 per $100 assessed value
Project total: $17.5 million
For: Renovations for existing school facilities, including Beech Grove High School, Beech Grove Middle School, South Grove Intermediate School, Central Elementary School, and Hornet Park Elementary School; and to build the Hornet Park Early Childhood Learning Center.

Fort Wayne Community Schools, Allen County
Property tax rate: $0.1486 per $100 assessed value
Project total: $130 million
For: Renovations for at each of the district’s 37 existing buildings.

Hanover Community, Lake County
Property tax rate: $0.8512 per $100 assessed value
Project total: $79 million
For: Renovations the high school and middle school campuses, and the construction of a new facility for upper grade elementary students, a resource center and improvements at existing school facilities.

MSD Washington Township, Marion County
Property tax rate: $0.3172 per $100 assessed value
Project total: $285 million
For: Renovations at existing buildings, construction of two new district facilities.

South Bend Community, St. Joseph County
Property tax rate: $0.0663 per $100 assessed value
Project total: $54 million
For: Renovations work at 30 district buildings.

Operations Levy

Barr-Reeve Community, Daviess County
Property tax rate: $0.25 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Classroom support, athletics and extra-curricular programs, school safety and mental health resources
Note: This tax would begin after a current tax of the same amount expires.

Bartholomew Consolidated, Bartholomew County
Property tax rate: $0.156 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Teacher and support staff compensation, maintaining student safety

Beech Grove City School Corporation, Marion County
Property tax rate: $0.55 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Teacher and support staff retention, transportation and building maintenance
Note: This measure would replace a tax levy currently in place.

Benton Community School Corporation, Benton County
Property tax rate: $0.31 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Teacher and support staff retention, safety, and agricultural, vocation and fine arts programs

Crothersville Community School Corporation, Jackson County
Property tax rate: $0.63 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Academic programs, teacher retention, and support for students with special needs

Eminence Community School Corporation, Morgan County
Property tax rate: $0.35 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Teacher retention, maintain daily educational operations

Hanover Community School Corporation, Lake County
Property tax rate: $0.29 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Continuation and expansion of academic programs, student safety and transportation
Note: This tax would begin after a current tax of the same amount expires.

Lanesville Community School Corporation, Harrison County
Property tax rate: $0.17 per $100 assessed value for 7 years
For: Managing class sizes, teacher retention, school safety
Note: This tax would begin after a current tax of the same amount expires.

MSD Washington Township, Marion County
Property tax rate: $0.25 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Student safety, student support services, expanding academic support programs and teacher retention
Note: This measure would replace a tax levy currently in place.

South Bend Community School Corporation, St. Joseph County
Property tax rate: $0.3334 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Trade and career center course offerings, comprehensive behavioral and emotional student supports, and teacher compensation

Union Township Community School Corporation, Porter County
Property tax rate: $0.21 per $100 assessed value for 7 years
For: Academic programs, managing class sizes, teacher retention
Note: This tax would begin after a current tax of the same amount expires.

Western Wayne Schools, Wayne County
Property tax rate: $0.19 per $100 assessed value for 8 years
For: Maintaining current education programs, managing class sizes, teacher and support staff retention

School Safety and Security Project

New Albany-Floyd County School Corporation, New Albany and Floyd counties
Property tax rate: $0.085 per $100 assessed value
Project total: $53 million
For: School resource officers, physical safety and security improvements, student mental wellness, addiction, anger management and bullying programs, and professional development programs for proactive safety strategies

Contact Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.