Hamilton County school funding referendums easily pass

Two Hamilton County schools will receive more funding next year after voters overwhelming approved referendums Tuesday.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools proposed a tax rate of 22.75 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is an increase from the existing 10-cent tax rate that voters approved in 2009.

The new rate, which will cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $303 annually, passed with 71 percent of the vote.

Sneha Shah, chair of Advance HSE, the political action committee supporting the Hamilton Southeastern referendum

"Our school community has spoken with a strong majority vote that our students’ education is a first and foremost priority," Shah said. "Our community has continuously demanded quality education for our school district and tonight’s result attest to this.”

The Noblesville Schools referendum asked for 18.9 cents per $100 of assessed value and passed with 73 percent voting in favor of it.

The rate is a decrease from the existing 21-cent tax that voters approved in 2010. For a $200,000 home, the cost would be about $190 per year, which is close to $23 less than the property taxes imposed under the existing referendum.

“The continued funding that has now been approved will allow us to remain on our path of providing second-to-none academic excellence for students and a strong foundation for Noblesville, all at a cost savings for taxpayers,” Noblesville Schools Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer said in a prepared statement. “We take the role of managing this funding seriously and are committed to making responsible financial decisions that are aligned with our interests of engaging, inspiring and empowering our students.”

Both referendums will help fund the school districts for the next seven years.

HSE currently receives $5,175 per student from the state, which is the third-lowest among all the districts, and Noblesville receives $5,358 per student, which puts it in the bottom 10 percent.

HSE has 20,825 students, making it the fourth largest district in Indiana, and Noblesville has nearly 10,000 students.

School leaders had been concerned that higher voter turnout could have negatively impacted the referendums.

Turnout in Hamilton County hit 47 percent—slightly higher than the 2008 primary when turnout was 45.8 percent. In the 2012 primary, voter turnout was only 25 percent.

HSE plans to use the extra funds to hire 43 new teachers, reduce class sizes, lower participation fees and add assistant principals at elementary schools.

Niedermeyer said the funding will help the district maintain its existing staff levels and academic programs.

“This is about maintaining the excellence we have in Noblesville Schools,” Niedermeyer told IBJ. “It’s not about doing extra things.”

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