Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Trend Continues As 12 Of 17 School Referenda Pass

Trends in school-related voting held remained the same this election cycle, which saw education referenda that in some cases were the only items on local ballots.

Thirteen Indiana school districts appealed to voters for their support in 17 separate referenda this spring. In total, twelve measures passed and five failed. See the breakdown below:

Show rows.
School Corporation
Tax rate
Percent yes
Percent no
Brownsburg Community SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.05Fail48%52%
Brownsburg Community SchoolsConstruction$0.41Fail47%53%
Community Schools of FrankfortConstruction$0.42Pass64.90%35.10%
Gary Community SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.41Fail35.23%64.77%
Hanover Community School Corp.General Fund$0.29Pass51.71%48.29%
MSD of Wayne TownshipGeneral Fund$0.35Pass64.18%35.82%
New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.Construction$0.20Fail44.69%55.31%
Perry Township SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.42Pass54.99%45.01%
Perry Township SchoolsConstruction$0.13Pass53.39%46.61%
Pike County School Corp.General Fund$0.29Fail31.89%68.11%
Rising Sun-Ohio County Comm. School Corp.General Fund$0.25Pass72.10%27.90%
River Forest Community School Corp.General Fund$0.42Pass65.75%34.25%
School City of Beech GroveGeneral Fund$0.35Pass75.84%24.16%
School City of Beech GroveConstruction$0.15Pass76.33%23.67%
Valparaiso Community SchoolsGeneral Fund$0.20Pass64%36%
Valparaiso Community SchoolsConstruction$0.65Pass63%37%
Warsaw Community SchoolsConstruction$0.14Pass62.31%37.69%

Source: Indiana Department of Local Government Finance

You can also check out our entire referenda scorecard, with district results dating back to 2008.

StateImpact’s favorite referenda expert, Larry DeBoer, says in general his theory is that referenda have a better chance of passing in May, since those elections don’t typically boast any big races and tend to draw a lot of pro-referendum support. Here was his reaction Tuesday night:

As we’ve reported, the Pike County School Corporation had asked community members for help closing a budget deficit with their ballot item – but 68 percent of voters said no. Pike Superintendent Suzanne Blake says that means it’s back to the drawing board for local school officials.

“The board will be getting serious about reducing this deficit, and I’m very concerned that there will be some steps taken that obviously people are not going to be happy with,” including program cuts and increased class sizes, Blake says. “I’m afraid the next steps are going to make it difficult for a little bit, [but] I can’t continue to go over the budget and spend without regard.”

If Pike County leaders want to propose a similar ballot measure, they would have to wait one full year to do so. Blake says seeing the large margin the ballot question lost by this election, she doesn’t foresee trying a second time.

Up north, River Forest Schools superintendent Steven Disney was able to celebrate Tuesday night – his district’s referendum passed with 66 percent of votes. The victory will mean more money to fund teaching positions, staff positions and educational programming.

Disney says he’s grateful for the support, but realizes that other districts may not have been so lucky.

“As an educator, you want to see every school corporation be successful,” Disney says. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had the leadership in Indianapolis that has valued public schools, and I think that this is reflected when communities come out and say ‘our public schools are important.'”

Disney says in addition to his district’s existing deficit, he is projecting about a 1.5 percent cut based on the school funding formula just passed by the General Assembly in the biennial budget process. This referendum will generate enough extra money to minimize the hole they’ll need to fill.

“We know that we’re on solid foundation to move forward,” Disney says. “Now, we want to get back to business, get ready to finish out the school year and get ready for the next school year.”


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