Several school districts seek passage of referendums

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At least five school districts in the Indianapolis area will have referendums on primary ballots Tuesday that seek to raise millions of dollars to prevent teacher cuts or support building projects.

The school districts say the additional funds are necessary to compensate for a change in the state's school-funding formula. Schools that until last year used property tax dollars for general fund expenses such as teacher salaries and utility bills now must rely on state tax revenue.

That revenue has been declining for several months, due to the poor economy, prompting Gov. Mitch Daniels to cut state funding for public schools by $297 million.

Washington and Pike townships, as well as Speedway, Carmel and Noblesville, are among area school districts staging referendums Tuesday.

"It's more important than ever, because you see this big trend at the state level where the revenues are reduced," said Ellen Miller, spokeswoman for the campaign supporting the Washington Township referendum.

Passage of the Washington Township referendum would, in effect, be tax-neutral. Though it would raise the general fund tax rate by 8 cents per $100 of a property's assessed valuation, that increase would be offset by a corresponding decrease in the capital projects fund. The school board passed a resulution in October requiring the corresponding reduction.

The referendum would prevent $4 million in general fund cuts. Without the money, the district would experience additional staff layoffs, more crowded classrooms, a loss of summer school and reduced resources, referendum supporters contend.

Washington Township resident Penny Bigelow, who opposes the referendum, isn't buying it. "They are advertising it as a no-tax increase but the wording on the referendum ballot says that it is a tax increase," she said. "This is not what it appears to be."

Supporters of the referendum say the state-mandated ballot language could mislead because it doesn't mention the school board's tax-neutrality resolution.

Proponents of the Pike Township referendum also are billing it as tax-neutral, because the new tax, which starts in 2012, will replace a previous one used to fund renovations to Pike High School. The referendum would raise taxes by 23 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to build a new Guion Creek Elementary.

In other other referendums:

— Speedway Schools is asking for a maximum tax rate of 59 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to raise its general fund by $3.4 million in 2001, the first year it would go into effect.

— Carmel Clay Schools is requesting a $12 million annual tax levy to keep the district from having to make drastic cuts and increase class sizes dramatically, school officials have said.

— Noblesville Schools wants residents to support two referendums, one for $5 million to cover operational expenses and another for $63 million to fund school building projects. The district wants to build two middle schools and one elementary school, in addition to expanding five schools.




  • The Victims
    Just remember, if you vote no the people who are getting screwed are the beginning teachers and the STUDENTS. Classrooms of 35+ will help no one.

    The people who waste the money in the schools will still have their jobs.

    If you really want to improve schools, there first has to be money to do so (so vote yes), but then we need people to get involved and work in the schools. Volunteer, run for school board, tutor, do something!
  • Voting YES for Washington Township
    TAX NEUTRAL!!! The board already passed a resolution so your taxes will not go up...they are moving funds from the capital fund to the general fund. They need your approval to do that. If this doesn't pass, the tax neutral referendum that you passed seven years ago will be voided. So in addition to the cuts from the government, an additional $5 million that has been in the budget will be cut. And all these people that complain about poor spending in schools and overpaid administrators, that's not changing regardless of your vote today. What will change is the laying off of 50 teachers...THE YOUNG ONES THAT MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN YOUR CHILDREN'S LIVES! So if you want class sizes of over thirty, no summer school opportunities, pay to play athletics, and cuts in busing vote no. Sounds like the wrong pulpit to me.
  • Constitutional School Taxes
    - Pity that the government does NOT follow our Indiana Constitution at Article 8 Section 2 for the support of our public schools. Sec 2 lays out several methods of funding our schools. HOWEVER, there is absolutely NO provision for taxing your private home. There IS a provision for taxing the property of corporations.
    - Read it and weep. Then ask your elected scoundrels why they are not following the funding mechanism of our Constitution.
    - BTW, the Washington Township referendum sure looks misleading.
  • Say "No" to Guion Referendum
    I will vote "No" on the Guion referendum. Contrary to the claim in the article, what the Pike administration is not telling you is that the bonds Guion will be replacing aren't paid off until 2015. Thus there will be a several year overlap. Nontheless, it is still a tax increase. When taxes are higher because of something that is passed, that is a tax increase. That's why it says so in the referendum.

    The adminstration should have simply fixed Guion. It is a solid building, it just hasn't been maintained for years because the adminsitration wanted it in bad shape to ask for more taxpayer money.

    Oh, and the Guion Creek tax increase will be outside the cap.

    I'm not sure who I will vote for, but one person won't be Pike Board Chairman John Brown. He is the epitome of what is wrong with the Pike Board.
  • of course they do
    OF COURSE private schools do better with less funding...because the students and their families pay a tuition in order to attend.
  • Something for nothing
    I am an strong supporter of STUDENTS and
    TEACHERS. Make no mistake about this.
    Make no mistake about this, also.
    The Indiana Property Tax was MIS-USED for
    DECADES!! School budgets were BLOATED for
    DECADES!! We are fed up with non-teaching
    school bureaucrats, living like fatted
    swine, while teachers and students suffer.
    Therefore, VOTE NO, tommorrow, on May 4th, 2010.
    The private schools do a better job with less funding. ISTEP scores are better but the facility perks are non-existent (small or no athletic facility and no swimming pool)
    • with you there
      "Seriously" - I'm right with you on the frivilous spending. I was agast at the $90 million spent on North Central's palatial athletic facilities. Fortunately, I live in Speedway, where we've always been thrifty and judicious with our spending. There comes a point where you've got to upgrade some technology in the classroom and pay teachers for the hard work they do.
      Speedway has had the lowest tax rates with the best graduation percentage in Marion County for decades. Even after this referendum, our rate will be half of Wayne Township's. I don't mind paying property taxes when I'm getting a great deal back.

      Side note to everyone: ditch your elected school boards! Speedway's is appointed by the town council. The men and women on our school board are de-facto volunteers whose agenda is not to get re-elected, but to make sure the kids get the opportunity to receive the best education they can be given. With as large as the township systems are, I'm sure you all can find 5-10 people that would volunteer the time for this noble duty.
    • "No" to Carmel Ref.
      I am voting no for the Carmel referendum on Tuesday. I realize the importance of having good Carmel schools and think it is unfortunate that the state changed the funding formula. I also realize that the city budget and the school budget are separate -- but, think the city should help out. The city of Carmel has the great ability of finding money for other (less critical)money pits.
    • Public vs. Private
      My children attend a private school and I would not have it any other way...no worries about tax cuts etc. I am paying a pretty penny for a good education for my children. It's not always easy but we make it work by cutting spending in other areas. Tuition is not deductable which is wrong in so many ways. As one would guess I would not support any type of referendum, as it would not benefit me or my children. Why can't our state government realize the need for a good education and make cuts in other areas as those of us who pay tuition have had to due in this down economy.
    • Carmel has $3 million of new spending
      Carmel's referendum has $3.2 million of new spending for programs and to reduce class size - had they asked for money just to replace that lost from the state, this taxpayer might have supported the referendum, but they're asking for new money in the worst economy in 70 years - I for one am voting NO tomorrow in Carmel
    • Even Playing Field
      In Carmelâ??s case we just want an even playing field. The formula was dramatically changed and now the Carmel schools are 4th from the bottom in funding from the State for its general fund that pays for teacherâ??s salaries.

      If Carmel received just the State average in funding we would likely not be holding a referendum tomorrow.
    • serte
      It is a shame that govt has the audacity to ask for more cash, when charter schools and the like out perform with smaller budgets. When will we force govt to function under the same constraints as private enterprise? Budgets, cost control, meritocracy, etc.
    • Education spending?
      We lump all expenses, new buildings with their flat screen TVs and couches and paintings and plush carpeting plus all duplicated admin costs such as administration as "education", and if someone wants these costs controlled, they are "against education".
    • Money inappropriately spent by schools
      I work with purchasing departments all over the State of Indiana. I see a lot of wasteful spending. There are at least four tiers of buyers for schools in Indiana - 1. IAESC purchasing, 2. Regions, i.e. CIESC, NWIESC, etc, 3. School Corporation (township) purchasing and finally 4. the end-user purchasing. There is a lot of duplication here. What a waste of my money.
    • Mitch
      Without Mitch Daniels our state would be in an even worse economic state. Those of you who just rant about Mitch being so bad need to stop being so narrow sited with your concerns and understand the complexities of our entire economy. With the mindset like what you speak of we would be totally bankrupt like California. I wish we had a president who ran this country like Mitch runs this state. He is not perfect, and no one is going to like everything a leader does, but overall he is doing a top notch job and is very direct, honest and has gotten more results in his position than most before him. Be greatful you live in a conservative valued state....or move somewhere that shares your values.
    • CAP
      Sounds great on paper, let's cap property taxes so we can gloat in our political adds etc. Thanks, Mitch for putting education on the backburner
      • Correct???
        Reading about the Pike tax, the paragraph is confusing
        In one place it says the tax is replacing one that will
        be expiring, but if you keep reading, it says you'll get
        hit with an addl .23 per thousand which is a lot

        So - what is it
      • In a recession, not the time to ask tax payers for more
        At home, if you aren't making the same amount of money, you have to cut your spending.

        Now is not the time (NOBLESVILLE) to spend more than $60 million dollars on athletic renovations (referees can change clothes in a classroom, do they really need their own locker rooms?), technology upgrades, and building & expanding schools when your population has DECLINED in the last 2 years.

        Seriously, do you think money grows on trees?
      • School Referendums
        Has anyone in the media looked at all these referendums in terms of whether any contain requests for additional money beyond money just to replace lost tax revenue? I'm for helping schools replace lost tax revenue, however, now is not the time to try to fulfill "wish lists."
        • property tax caps are good
          Serte, we are in this mess because there has been gross overspending by the government and out of whack ideals about what is important when it comes to our children's education. We shouldn't even be taxed for owning property to begin with. The governments need to start spending the money they get wisely on a budget like we all have to. When i need more things for my household I have to save and priortize. There is nobody I can just tax and take money from to make up for my mismanagement of funds. Maybe schools should refocus on their students EDUCATION and not entertainment. I recieved a very high quality education at private (and poor) education facilities that did not have A/C, nor a football field, nor tennis courts, and had block walls and VCT. We had all the things we needed like lockers, buses and most importantly, educated teachers who actually cared about their students. They were also allowed to discipline the students when they were disrupting the classroom or being disrespectful. Of course parents were actually involved in being parents back then for the most part as well so that helps.
          This will be painful to change your mindset at first, but if the money school systems receive is spent correctly (on the students and educational tools and teaching staff and basic building maintanance) then everything will be fine and the education of our future generations would not be impacted....but hopefully improved over the levels it has sank to in the past decade. If parents insist that their kids get collegiate level nadatoriums and NFL style football feilds then they should pay addtional fees for it out of thier own pocket. The general public should not be held responsible for these "ammenities" that are above the education of the children.
          Why this idea is so ground breaking is beyond me... Wake up people.
          • the poor get poorer and the dumb get dumber
            I couldn't agree more Serte!!!! It's ridiculous that people want services (of any kind) without having to pay for them. It makes me crazy mad. Our children are the future - ALL CHILDREN and they should be the number one priority. Whether you have them or not, it impacts you directly in so many ways if children aren't getting a good education.
          • Use tax dollar for EDUCATION
            I support programs which are educational, but do not support tax dollars going to non-classroom frivolous spending.

            There is a lot of fat in the MSDWT school budget. Let's cut that out and focus on the real task at hand -- EDUCATING THE STUDENTS.
          • What taxes are supposed to pay for
            Taxes are supposed to pay for public benefits like education, safety and health. Otherwise, the cost for each of us individually to purchase these services for ourselves would greatly exceed our means even if there were no taxes at all. I would much rather a government of reasonable people provide them than greedy for-profit corporations.
          • See what property tax caps do...
            Sure, property tax caps sound like a great idea, but they only leave public services playing tug-of-war. I find it shameful to suppress needed funding for public safety, education, and libraries in the name of tax caps. There is an immeasurable value to these services that will eventually be unable to provide the quality required by the community.

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            1. I never thought I'd see the day when a Republican Mayor would lead the charge in attempting to raise every tax we have to pay. Now it's income taxes and property taxes that Ballard wants to increase. And to pay for a pre-K program? Many studies have shown that pre-K offer no long-term educational benefits whatsoever. And Ballard is pitching it as a way of fighting crime? Who is he kidding? It's about government provided day care. It's a shame that we elected a Republican who has turned out to be a huge big spending, big taxing, big borrowing liberal Democrat.

            2. Why do we blame the unions? They did not create the 11 different school districts that are the root of the problem.

            3. I was just watching an AOW race from cleveland in 1997...in addition to the 65K for the race, there were more people in boats watching that race from the lake than were IndyCar fans watching the 2014 IndyCar season finale in the Fontana grandstands. Just sayin...That's some resurgence modern IndyCar has going. Almost profitable, nobody in the grandstands and TV ratings dropping 61% at some tracks in the series. Business model..."CRAZY" as said by a NASCAR track general manager. Yup, this thing is purring like a cat! Sponsors...send them your cash, pronto!!! LOL, not a chance.

            4. I'm sure Indiana is paradise for the wealthy and affluent, but what about the rest of us? Over the last 40 years, conservatives and the business elite have run this country (and state)into the ground. The pendulum will swing back as more moderate voters get tired of Reaganomics and regressive social policies. Add to that the wave of minority voters coming up in the next 10 to 15 years and things will get better. unfortunately we have to suffer through 10 more years of gerrymandered districts and dispropionate representation.

            5. Funny thing....rich people telling poor people how bad the other rich people are wanting to cut benefits/school etc and that they should vote for those rich people that just did it. Just saying..............