May 5, 2015

Marion County School Corps. Win All Tax Increase Referenda

The unofficial 2015 municipal primary election results for Marion County - Marion County Clerk's Office

The unofficial 2015 municipal primary election results for Marion County

Marion County Clerk's Office

Three Marion County school districts were victorious in passing a total of five tax levy increases worth $130 million to fund building expansions, classroom teaching and transportation.

But in nearby Hendricks County voters came out against Brownsburg Community Schools' two separate levies worth a total of $95 million to fund the high school renovation and build an elementary school.

Read More: Statewide, 12 of the 17 school referenda on the ballot passed

“The results are in and unfortunately we did not win on either question,” Superintendent Jim Snapp said in a tweet shortly after learning of the results. Earlier in the evening Snapp released a statement that said, no matter the results he wanted the community to focus on “building and rebuilding positive relationships.”

In Marion County, voters made a clear choice to support schools with more of their property taxes. Since 2008, a state law has required voters to decide whether to give more funding to public school districts above and beyond property tax caps.

Beech Grove, Perry Township and Wayne Township schools handily won their bids for more funding, according to the unofficial results by the Marion County Clerk.

Wayne Township Superintendent Jeff Butts and a political action committee organized a hard charging campaign during the past four months to explain how the district was facing an annual $8 million shortfall after $30 million in budget cuts due to reduced property tax funds.

“This is how schools are funded,” Butts told WFYI last week. “We’ve cut back on the taxes and now local communities get to decide whether or not they are going to support their schools and have increased supports for their children or if they want those schools to operate in a lean fashion and not operate in a way to provide all the services for the children.”

Here is a look at the passing Marion County referenda as collected by StateImpact:

  • Perry Township Schools’ referendum will generate $50 million by an increase of 13.46 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to fund 89 additional K-5 classrooms, as well as restrooms, cafeteria and kitchen spaces and middle school music areas “to meet the currently anticipated student growth needs” and plan for the future of the community. Additionally, a separate $3 million referendum based on a tax increase of 42.12 cents per $100 of assessed valuation will go toward transportation services, building maintenance, academic and support programs.
  • Wayne Township Schools’ referendum will generate $9.6 million in each of the next seven years with a local property tax rate increase of 35 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The funds will go toward “daily educational operations.”
  • Beech Grove Schools’ two referendum will generate a total of $10.2 million. One -- an increase of 15 cents per $100 of assessed valuation -- is for upgrades to the Beech Grove High School band and choir facility, as well as renovation and improvements at four local schools: Beech Grove High, Beech Grove Middle School, Hornet Park Elementary and South Grove Intermediate School. The other -- 35 cents per $100 of assessed valuation -- will go toward transportation, purchasing buses, student safety measures and building maintenance.

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at eweddle@wfyi.org or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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