Center Grove Community School Corporation is asking Johnson County voters to approve a property tax referendum on Election Day for $24.8 million to expand school safety measures.
INTERVIEW Click link above for interview with WFYI's Eric Weddle and Center Grove schools Superintendent Richard Arkanoff
The "Safety and Security Support" proposal calls for 10 identified projects, including more officers, live video monitoring, expansive mental health supports, and cybersecurity among other enhancements.
Center Grove schools Superintendent Richard Arkanoff says safety is always a concern, but it was heightened after he and other district staffers visited Littleton, Colorado to see security measures in school there. Last year, the district hired safety organization Safe Havens International to audit Center Grove schools.
“When we went out to Littleton we realized that this is a national crisis. And that helped us then realize that we needed to take more action and particularly, you know, in the idea of being proactive.”
The audit was followed up by a survey of more than 1,200 respondents to weigh on their concerns and safety needs. That led to safety projects the district wants to pay for with the referendum.
If the referendum passes, property owners within the district would see a tax increase of 11.5 cents for every $100 of assessed value for each of the next eight years.
A home worth $175,000 would be taxed an additional $16.77 a month or $201.25 a year, according to the tax calculator on the district’s website. A home of the same value that is a Homestead property would have a lesser tax increase.
Arkanoff says addressing mental health issues of students in all grades will be increased in the tax measure is approved. Additional classroom support would staff to help teachers with behavioral and mental health support.
“This is one of the undercurrents of some of the really significant issues happening in our communities and as far as violence goes,” he says.
The Center Grove school system is about 20 minutes south of Indianapolis and enrolls students from White River Township in Johnson County. The A-rated district has nine schools and 8,500 student enrollment, according to the most recent state data.