October 25, 2023

Here are the 11 Indiana schools with a referendum on Nov. 7 ballot

Carmel Clay Schools in Hamilton County is asking voters to continue an ongoing property tax increase to keep $25 million in annual revenue flowing to pay for teachers and staff. - (Eric Weddle / WFYI)

Carmel Clay Schools in Hamilton County is asking voters to continue an ongoing property tax increase to keep $25 million in annual revenue flowing to pay for teachers and staff.

(Eric Weddle / WFYI)

Eleven school districts across Indiana seek voter approval to raise property taxes, extend existing tax levies, or substitute current levies in the Nov. 7 general election.

Many school corporations now depend on the added funds from local property-tax referendums to consistently pay for teachers, staff, and academic programs. This follows Indiana's significant shift, in 2009, to fund schools primarily through state revenue generated by sales taxes, individual income tax, and other taxes.

Indiana's property taxes are capped at assessed value rates based on the type of property: 1 percent for owner-occupied homes, 2 percent for other residential properties and farmland, and 3 percent for all other property. But if voters approve a local referendum, a property tax bill can exceed the cap and the extra taxes go to the local school district.

Most of the funding requests on the ballot would go to school operations budgets — to pay for things like teachers and other staff, academic programs, and transportation – according to the spending plans filed by each school corporation to the state. Schools also warn they may not be able to retain teachers if voters reject the questions. 

Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of two districts with a safety referendum — local tax funding initiatives to cover costs related to mental health programs, school resource officers, security enhancements, and related staff. If approved, Fort Wayne would boost student mental health programs and security by $12 million annually

The School City of Hammond in Lake County is the only district with a capital levy to pay for construction. The $84 million referendum would expand and renovate the district’s two high schools.

The School City of Hammond is also the only district required on this ballot to share revenue if its referendum is approved. The district would then distribute around $833,000 annually to 10 charter schools. 

A new law requires school districts in Lake, Marion, St. Joseph and Vanderburgh counties share a portion of any property-tax revenue raised by a successful operating referendum to be distributed to local charter schools in proportion to the number of students living in the school district who attend the charter school. 

Here are the local public questions for school referendums on the Nov. 7 ballot. The totals for operation levies are based on the net assessed valuation of taxable property in the district boundary earlier this year. That value can change.

 

 

Operations referendums

Carmel-Clay Schools, Hamilton County

Renewal of property tax rate previously approved in 2017: $0.19 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $191,651,712

How $23,956,464 of annual revenue will be spent: Compensation for teachers, attracting educators and support staff ($23,500,000) and educational-related programs ($456,464).

Hamilton Southeastern Schools, Hamilton County

Changing the tax rate previously approved in 2016 from $0.2275 to $0.1995 per $100 assessed value for eight years. 

Total revenue over eight years: $192,000,000 

How $24,000,000 of annual revenue will be spent: Academic program and compensation for 67 teachers ($6,700,000), maintaining class size and 59 teachers ($5,900,000), and retaining and attracting teachers ($9,000,000).

Lake Station Community School Corporation, Lake County

Renewal of property tax rate previously approved in 2017: $0.54 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years:  $10,653,800

How $1,331,725 of annual revenue will be spent: School bus transportation ($466,104), maintaining and expanding academic programs ($332,931), staff compensation ($332,931), safety and security ($133,173), and other educational needs ($66,586). 

Monroe County Community School Corporation, Monroe County

Property tax rate: $0.085 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years:  $68,000,000

How $8,500,000 of annual revenue will be spent: Expanding preschool and other early education ($6,000,000), eliminating student and family fees ($1,250,000), and career education ($1,250,000).

Northeast Dubois County School Corporation, Dubois County

Renewal of property tax rate previously approved in 2016: $0.18 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $5,627,944

How $703,493 of annual revenue will be spent: Academic programming ($390,493), managing class size ($208,000), and extracurricular activities ($105,000). 

School City of Hammond, Lake County

Renewal of property tax rate previously approved in 2017: $0.44 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $117,406,600

How $14,675,825 of annual revenue will be spent: Transportation ($4,844,806), maintaining and expanding academic programs ($3,460,576), recruitment and retention of teachers and staff ($3,460,576), student safety and security services ($1,384,230), share with 10 charter schools ($833,521), and other educational needs ($692,116).

School City of Whiting, Lake County

Property tax rate: $0.17 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $8,960,000

How $1,120,000 of annual revenue will be spent: Recruitment and retention of educators ($418,275), academic programs ($340,567), counseling and mental health staff ($307,564), and school safety initiatives ($53,594).

Sheridan Community School Corporation, Boone & Hamilton Counties

Renewal of property tax rate previously approved in 2017: $0.25 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $10,183,960

How $1,272,995 of annual revenue will be spent: Retaining and attracting teachers, staff ($895,995) and academic programs ($377,000).

West Lafayette Community Schools, Tippecanoe County

Renewal of property tax rate previously approved in 2017: $0.37 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $56,576,632

How $7,072,079 of annual revenue will be spent: $4.4 million will go toward compensation for teachers and staff, and academic programs, and $2.6 million for operational costs like student transportation and maintenance personnel. 

Safety referendums

Metropolitan School District of Bluffton Harrison, Wells County

Property tax rate: $0.075 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $3,564,304

How $445,538 will be spent annually: Additional school resource officers ($253,957); physical safety and security improvements ($62,375); mental health support for students ($106,929); professional development ($22,277).

Fort Wayne Community School Corp., Allen County

Property tax rate: $0.10 per $100 assessed value for eight years 

Total revenue over eight years: $97,632,576

How $12,204,072 will be spent annually: Student advocate personnel ($4,041,728); Safety and security equipment and technology ($2,829,138); Additional mental health supports ($2,500,000); Mental health therapist personnel (1,299,127); and third party mental health programs ($500,000). 

Capital referendum

School City of Hammond, Lake County

Project total: $84,220,000

How funds will be spent: Renovations, improvements, and construction of additions at Morton High School ($74,675,067), and Hammond Central High School ($9,544,933).

Contact WFYI education editor Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org.

Support independent journalism today. You rely on WFYI to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Donate to power our nonprofit reporting today. Give now.

 

Related News

All-girls charter school clears major hurdle in rezoning conflict
Grammy winner Babyface surprises IPS students, boosts IPS music education programs
Indiana wants to address student behavior. Here’s one school’s approach involving birdhouses