October 31, 2019

Lawrence Township Schools' 1st Referendum Is For $191M In Building Renovations

Logo for Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township.

Logo for Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township.

The Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township is asking voters to approve a $191 million property tax increase on Election Day to pay for building improvements system-wide.

INTERVIEW Click link above for interview with WFYI's Eric Weddle and Lawrence Superintendent Shawn Smith

The school corporation is the last of the 11 districts in Marion County to attempt a property-tax increase referendum.

If approved, the capital projects referendum would increase taxes at a rate of 24.99 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Over the course of 20 years, the increase will generate $191 million.

A property-tax bill of a home valued at $100,000 would increase $20.83 a month or $249.90 annually if the referendum is approved, according to the school tax calculator. Homes with the homestead exception would have a less tax increase.

Lawrence Superintendent Shawn Smith says the time arrived for the district to ask voters for a tax increase because of facility needs at the two high schools -- Lawrence North and Lawrence Central -- four elementary schools and four early learning centers. 

Smith says the needs are as varried as new roofs, modernized science labs and updates to cafeterias and kitchens.

Infrastructure at the schools, such as heating, air conditioning, electric, and plumbing is in need of $50 million worth of upgrades, Smith says. Upgrades for the two high schools total $161 million.

“Lawrence North High School has never had a major renovation. We've done some additions to the building, but we've never got it the building and renovated it and it's 46 years old,” Smith says. “And then Lawrence Central High School, its last renovation was right at 26 years ago.”

The district will also use some of the capital funds to improve safety and security features at schools, including enforcing entrances and throughout buildings and expanded security camera systems.

Lawrence Township Schools is in northeastern Marion County. The C-rated district has 16 schools and 16,000 students enrolled, according to the most recent state data.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. Marion County voters can vote early: in person at the Marion County Clerk's Office or at four satellite voting locations.

More information:

Lawrence Township referendum details

Lawrence Township tax calculator

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