Nine school districts across the state are asking voters tomorrow to approve tax increases via ballot referendums.
If passed, the increased tax revenue will help fund school districts with expenses ranging from building renovations, transportation costs and operational costs to avoid consolidation.
We’ve already explained each of the nine district’s referenda, but two of the district’s requests are worth taking a closer look at because they represent what a lot of small districts in the state are facing: decreased funding that threatens school closure and consolidation and lack of transportation for students.
Elkhart Community Schools has two separate referendum: a construction referendum to make building improvements district wide and a school tax levy referendum to increase transportation for students.
Robert Haworth, Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent, says their lack of transportation funds forced the district to eliminate 20 buses, which strained students, parents and schools.
“We will continue to have students who walk over two miles to school each day, and we will continue to have students who are on the bus for over and hour and 15 minutes each day,” Haworth said.Haworth blames property tax caps for the district’s funding woes.
Eminence Community School Corporation also has a referendum in tomorrow’s election, and Superintendent Terry Terhune says the tax increase of up to 40 cents of $100 assessed valuation would fund school operational costs and prevent consolidation.
Besides the typical stressors associated with school consolidation, Terhune says if the schools close the entire town would be affected.
“The school serves as a center of the community and is used for a lot of different purposes beyond just K-12 education,” Terhune said. “So in order to continue in that function we also need additional revenue.”
Results for the 10 referendum questions will available tomorrow here and on Twitter by following @StateImpactIN and @ClaireMcInerny.