Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Referenda Scorecard: School Districts That Have Pursued Tax Levy Increases Since 2008

Elle Moxley / StateImpact Indiana

Superintendent Jon Willman, right, and members of the Hamilton Community School Board take questions about a proposed tax levy increase during a public meeting ahead of the November 2012 election. The referendum passed with 74 percent of the vote.

Less than a quarter of Indiana school corporations have pursued a referendum in the five years since the state legislature changed the way districts can levy taxes for construction and operating expenses.

Fourteen of the 67 districts have made two or more appeals, including two school corporations that passed construction referenda Tuesday — Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville. The seven questions that appeared on the ballot in this week’s special election bring the total number of school referenda in Indiana to 88 since 2008.

(Scroll down to find StateImpact‘s scorecard on five years of school referenda is after the jump.)

Districts asking for a tax levy increase to bolster the general fund have fared slightly better than school corporations asking voters to approve building projects, though only 45.7 percent of referenda have passed so far.

Purdue agricultural economist Larry DeBoer says Indiana is still relatively new to referenda and it’s too soon to tell what impact elections will have on school district budgets. But here’s what we can tell you:

  • It’s not uncommon for districts to ask two or three times before voters say yes. Of the 14 districts that have pursued multiple referenda, six have made three or more appeals. Noblesville has returned to voters four times in five years, scaling back a construction proposal that failed in 2009 to win approval in 2010. The district also passed a general fund tax levy increase and a second construction referendum.
  • The Brown County School Corporation asked for the smallest general fund tax levy — just one cent, which passed with 55 percent of the vote. But 64 percent of voters in Franklin Township rejected a 75-cent levy increase, the most a school district has sought through a general fund referendum. The average ask for a general fund referendum is 24.9 cents.
  • The average ask for a construction referendum is 32.8 cents, though schools have asked for as 8 cents and as much as 87 cents. DeBoer says generally speaking, for every additional 10 cents a district seeks, a referendum is one or two percentage points less likely to pass.
  • Because school corporations have different assessed values — that is, how much property within it is worth — districts have to ask for different tax rates to raise the same amount. For example, the four school districts trying to raise $1 million a year for seven years have asked for levies of 19 cents, 22 cents, 24 cents and 50 cents. Only one, Union Township, succeeded.

Terry Spradlin, Director for Education Policy at the Indiana University Center for Evaluation & Education Policy (CEEP), has been keeping track of Indiana’s referendum results for the past several years. He’s published his scorecards in CEEP policy briefs. With now five years of results to track, we wanted to create a searchable, sortable scorecard.

We’ve compiled the following table using information from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, from IU’s CEEP, from local superintendents and from county election clerks.

2008-13 Indiana School Referenda

Click on the arrows over the column headings to sort results by district name, by the tax rate increase they sought (per $100 of assessed valuation), by the total amount of money at stake or the election result. In the Search box labeled “Filter,” enter the name of a district to find the results of a referendum.

Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, IU Center for Evaluation & Education Policy

Show rows.
School Corporation
Tax rate
Total amount
Percent yes
Percent no
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.November 2008Construction$0.170 $89,000,000 Pass68.0%32.0%
Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp.November 2008Construction$0.140 $149,000,000 Pass70.0%30.0%
Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp.November 2008Construction$0.780 $18,750,000 Pass65.0%35.0%
Indianapolis Public SchoolsNovember 2008Construction$0.203 $278,000,000 Pass78.0%22.0%
Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp.November 2008Construction$0.380 $35,000,000 Fail38.0%62.0%
Kankakee Valley School Corp.January 2009Construction$0.300 $60,000,000 Pass70.7%29.3%
Noblesville SchoolsJanuary 2009Construction$0.151 $59,900,000 Fail48.9%51.1%
Clinton Central School Corp.February 2009Construction$0.650 $22,500,000 Fail14.2%85.8%
MSD Southwest Allen CountyApril 2009General Fund$0.170 $24,500,000 Pass70.5%29.5%
Delphi Community School Corp.May 2009Construction$0.280 $21,760,000 Fail40.0%60.0%
Michigan City Area SchoolsMay 2009Construction$0.132 $39,500,000 Fail32.2%67.8%
Mooresville Cons. School Corp.May 2009Construction$0.314 $46,000,000 Fail38.4%61.6%
Mooresville Cons. School Corp.May 2009Construction$0.233 $50,000,000 Fail41.0%59.0%
Ninevah-Hensley-Jackson United School Corp.May 2009Construction$0.280 $26,000,000 Fail28.5%71.5%
Porter Township School Corp.May 2009Construction$0.610 $34,850,000 Fail25.6%74.4%
Lake Central School CorpJune 2009Construction$0.123 $95,000,000 Fail41.4%58.6%
Maconaquah School Corp.June 2009Construction$0.239 $19,000,000 Fail43.3%56.7%
Batesville Community School Corp.November 2009Construction$0.440 $28,000,000 Fail43.4%56.6%
Beech Grove City SchoolsNovember 2009General Fund$0.350 $10,500,000 Pass62.7%37.3%
Franklin Township Community School Corp.November 2009General Fund$0.330 $42,000,000 Fail30.8%69.2%
Franklin Township Community School Corp.November 2009General Fund$0.170 $21,000,000 Fail31.5%68.5%
Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsNovember 2009General Fund$0.100 $38,500,000 Pass81.9%18.1%
MSD of Perry TownshipNovember 2009Construction$0.264 $98,885,000 Fail47.9%52.1%
Southern Wells Community SchoolsNovember 2009General Fund$0.130 $2,100,000 Pass52.1%47.9%
Southwest DuBois County School Corp.November 2009Construction$0.590 $22,500,000 Pass55.2%44.8%
Tell City-Troy Township School Corp.November 2009Construction$0.280 $10,000,000 Fail49.2%50.8%
Carmel Clay School Corp.May 2010General Fund$0.160 $84,000,000 Pass58.0%42.0%
Clarksville Community School Corp.May 2010General Fund$0.240 $7,000,000 Fail45.0%55.0%
Decatur County Community SchoolsMay 2010Construction$0.533 $36,140,000 Fail43.0%57.0%
Decatur County Community SchoolsMay 2010Construction$0.196 $14,360,000 Fail37.0%63.0%
Eastern Hancock County Community School Corp.May 2010General Fund$0.166 $2,800,000 Fail32.0%68.0%
MSD of Mt. VernonMay 2010General Fund$0.251 $21,000,000 Fail34.0%66.0%
MSD of Pike TownshipMay 2010Construction$0.238 $21,475,000 Pass69.0%31.0%
MSD of Washington TownshipMay 2010General Fund$0.080 $28,000,000 Pass72.0%28.0%
Noblesville School Corp.May 2010General Fund$0.212 $35,000,000 Pass63.0%37.0%
Noblesville School Corp.May 2010Construction$0.190 $63,600,000 Pass60.0%40.0%
Northern Wells Community SchoolsMay 2010Construction$0.220 $15,845,000 Fail49.0%51.0%
Rensselaer Central Schools Corp.May 2010Construction$0.228 $14,835,000 Pass53.0%47.0%
Rossville Consolidated School DistrictMay 2010Construction$0.590 $13,455,000 Fail40.0%60.0%
School Town of SpeedwayMay 2010General Fund$0.590 $24,500,000 Pass86.0%14.0%
West Lafayette Community School Corp.May 2010General Fund$0.430 $25,900,000 Pass66.0%34.0%
Western Boone School Corp.May 2010General Fund$0.190 $7,000,000 Fail31.0%69.0%
Anderson Community School CorporationNovember 2010General Fund$0.550 $49,000,000 Fail30.0%70.0%
Brown County School CorporationNovember 2010General Fund$0.010 $875,000 Pass56.0%44.0%
Cannelton City SchoolsNovember 2010General Fund$0.410 $798,000 Pass53.0%47.0%
Center Grove Community School Corp.November 2010General Fund$0.150 $22,050,000 Fail43.0%57.0%
Community School Corp. of Southern Hancock CountyNovember 2010General Fund$0.240 $10,500,000 Fail39.0%61.0%
East Allen County SchoolsNovember 2010General Fund$0.371 $57,400,000 Fail30.0%70.0%
Elwood Community School CorporationNovember 2010General Fund$0.500 $7,000,000 Fail27.0%73.0%
Hamilton Southeastern School DistrictNovember 2010Construction$0.094 $62,000,000 Pass72.0%28.0%
Lebanon Community School CorporationNovember 2010Construction$0.667 $40,000,000 Pass50.3%49.7%
Monroe County Community School Corp.November 2010General Fund$0.140 $45,000,000 Pass61.0%39.0%
Mt. Vernon Community School Corp.November 2010General Fund$0.123 $7,000,525 Fail41.0%59.0%
Northwest Shelby SchoolsNovember 2010General Fund$0.116 $3,500,000 Fail49.0%51.0%
Randolph Central School CorporationNovember 2010Construction$0.487 $19,800,000 Fail46.5%53.5%
Randolph Central School CorporationNovember 2010Construction$0.080 $3,190,000 Fail38.0%62.0%
Tell City-Troy Township School Corp.November 2010Construction$0.160 $6,000,000 Fail43.0%57.0%
Westfield-Washington SchoolsNovember 2010General Fund$0.230 $32,200,000 Pass54.0%46.0%
Whitko Community School CorporationNovember 2010General Fund$0.200 $6,048,000 Fail28.0%72.0%
Zionsville Community SchoolsNovember 2010General Fund$0.295 $40,600,000 Fail39.0%61.0%
Avon Community School Corp.May 2011General Fund$0.171 $23,800,000 Fail37.0%63.0%
Crown Point Community School Corp.May 2011General Fund$0.210 $35,000,000 Pass60.0%40.0%
Franklin Township Community School Corp.May 2011General Fund$0.750 $91,000,000 Fail36.0%64.0%
MSD of Perry TownshipMay 2011General Fund$0.308 $70,000,000 Pass58.0%42.0%
MSD of Perry TownshipMay 2011Construction$0.137 $50,000,000 Pass57.0%43.0%
North Adams Community SchoolsMay 2011General Fund$0.205 $8,750,000 Fail14.0%86.0%
Oak Hill United School Corp.May 2011Construction$0.872 $49,500,000 Fail18.0%82.0%
Lake Central School Corp.November 2011Construction$0.484 $160,000,000 Pass55.0%45.0%
Randolph Central School Corp.November 2011Construction$0.482 $18,900,000 Fail45.0%55.0%
Sheridan Community SchoolsNovember 2011General Fund$0.190 $665,000 Pass72.0%28.0%
Zionsville Community SchoolsNovember 2011Debt refinancingPass75.0%25.0%
Crawfordsville Community School Corp.May 2012Construction$0.658 $35,000,000 Pass79.6%20.4%
Duneland School Corp.May 2012General Fund$0.220 $39,900,000 Pass51.0%49.0%
East Allen County SchoolsMay 2012Construction$0.395 $88,750,000 Fail36.0%64.0%
Fort Wayne Community SchoolsMay 2012Construction$0.143 $119,346,000 Pass66.0%34.0%
Northern Wells Community SchoolsMay 2012Construction$0.177 $14,980,000 Pass64.7%35.3%
Oregon-Davis School Corp.May 2012General Fund$0.190 $2,800,000 Pass64.6%35.4%
Zionsville Community SchoolsMay 2012General Fund$0.244 $14,100,000 Pass57.0%43.0%
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.November 2012General Fund$0.050 $12,600,000 Fail46.0%54.0%
Hamilton Community School Corp.November 2012General Fund$0.440 $10,500,000 Pass74.0%26.0%
Mt. Vernon Community School Corp.November 2012General Fund$0.085 $1,950,000 Fail43.0%57.0%
Barr-Reeve Community SchoolsMay 2013General Fund$0.350 $6,650,000 Pass82.5%17.5%
Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsMay 2013Construction$0.135 $95,000,000 Pass67.9%32.1%
Knox Community School Corp.May 2013Construction$0.280 $16,000,000 Fail45.2%54.8%
MSD of Boone TownshipMay 2013General Fund$0.234 $3,710,000 Fail49.8%50.2%
Noblesville SchoolsMay 2013Construction$0.100 $28,000,000 Pass68.5%31.5%
School Town of MunsterMay 2013General Fund$0.199 $21,000,000 Pass65.3%34.7%
Union Township School Corp.May 2013General Fund$0.220 $7,000,000 Pass58.2%41.8%
Goshen Community SchoolsNovember 2013Construction$0.109$17,150,000Pass61.02%38.98%
School City of MishawakaNovember 2013Construction$0.294$28,000,000Fail31.99%68.01%
Muncie Community SchoolsNovember 2013General Fund$0.394$3,325,000Fail46.11%53.89%
Michigan City Area SchoolsNovember 2013General Fund$0.17$5,600,000Fail42.65%57.35%
Elkhart Community SchoolsMay 2014Construction$0.0545$19,000,000Pass60.8%39.2
Elkhart Community SchoolsMay 2014Transportation costs$0.1315$28,000,000Pass60.2%39.8%
Madison Consolidated SchoolsMay 2014Construction$0.4028$40,000,000Fail76.7%23%
Concord Community SchoolsMay 2014General Fund$0.405$10,000,000Pass51%49%
Eminence Community School Corp.May 2014General Fund$0.25 (up to $0.4)$390,000Pass87%13%
Lanesville Community School Corp.May 2014General Fund$0.17$260,000Pass53.31%46.69%
MSD Boone TownshipMay 2014General Fund$0.21$479,000Pass50.6749.33
MSD of Decatur TownshipMay 2014General Fund$0.2986$27,000,000Pass63.93%36.07%
Mount Vernon Community School Corp.May 2014General Fund$0.11$2,500,000Pass50.14%49.86%
White River Valley School Corp.May 2014General Fund$0.41$1,400,000Pass53.77%46.23%

One note: Although district can levy up to the tax rate and total amount listed in the table, they can collect less money if their financial needs change.


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