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Four Indiana schools propose referendums. Most of the revenue to attract, retain staff

A blue sign asks community members to support Franklin's future by voting yes. The sign has a yellow kite with a yellow string that ends in a check mark.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
Four Indiana school corporations have their own ballot measures up for primary voters next week.

Four Indiana school corporations are gearing up for referendum votes during next week’s primary election. Those schools plan to spend most of the money on attracting and retaining teachers and staff — if their referendums are approved by voters.

Trent McCormick, superintendent at Blue River Valley Schools, said the corporation will be forced to make budget cuts if the referendum does not pass.

“There are really only two ways to raise revenue,” he said. “One of those is to get more students moving into your district, which is not happening. And secondly, run a referendum. Those are our choices, so that's where we landed.”

This is Blue River Valley’s first referendum. Brown County Schools, Fremont Community Schools and Metropolitan School District of Pike Township are also asking voters to approve referendums.

What are schools requesting?

Blue River Valley School Corporation

  • Rate per $100,000 of assessed property value: $0.19
  • Expected annual revenue: $359,594

Brown County Schools

  • Rate per $100,000 of assessed property value: $0.10
  • Expected annual revenue: $1,875,051

Fremont Community Schools

  • Rate per $100,000 of assessed property value: $0.15
  • Expected annual revenue: $2,384,719

MSD Pike Township

  • Rate per $100,000 of assessed property value: $0.24
  • Expected annual revenue: 14,500,000

Each school corporation has more information about its specific referendum on its website. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance also has additional information.

McCormick said school finance is complicated, so it can be difficult to understand why schools need more money. He said he hopes the community trusts the school district to spend referendum money wisely.

“Our educational system in Indiana has become so complex that it really comes down, at a local level, to trust,” he said. “Do the local constituents trust that their school board members, their administrative team are navigating all of those waters resourcefully productively?”

The corporation hosted information sessions for community members to help them better understand what the money will be used for and how the referendum will affect property taxes.

A law passed in 2021 says schools must use specific language about referendums on ballots, but school officials have expressed concern that the language is confusing and might make voters think their taxes will increase more than they actually will.

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McCormick said he encourages voters to visit Blue River Valley’s website to learn more about the referendum.

“We hope that the community will support our teachers is what it comes down to. Because, in the very end, it's supporting our students,” McCormick said.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

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Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.