July 18, 2018

Noblesville Will Ask Voters For $50M Tax Increase To Boost Safety

Noblesville School Board - Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Noblesville School Board

Eric Weddle/WFYI News

Noblesville Schools will ask voters this Fall to nearly double a current property tax rate to expand safety measures in the wake of the school shooting there in May.

Tuesday the school board voted to seek $6.25 million a year in additional general operations funding for the next eight years, for a total of $50 million.

The current operating referendum tax rate is 18.9 cents per $100 of assessed value. Voters approved that rate in 2016. The proposed referendum would replace the 18.9 cents rate with a new rate of 37 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“The referendum we passed in 2016 was about maintaining the status quo of our staffing, programming and services, and was a 10.5 percent reduction in the tax rate,” Noblesville Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer said in a statement. “This referendum is asking the community to support an increase in funding so we can address school safety and mental health enhancements, as well as teacher recruiting/retention needs.”

The district recently unveiled a new safety plan that includes adding a trained police officer in every school, an increase from three to 14. It would also provide additional surveillance equipment, increased facility lockdown tools, mental health counseling staff, and the elimination of portable classrooms.

In the aftermath of the May 25 shooting at Noblesville Middle School West, parents have asked the district to fortify the schools with security and provide more services to help students with mental health and emotional needs.

The new funds would also go toward recruiting and retaining teaching staff.

This referendum for the Nov. 6 ballot would be the sixth tax increase requested by Noblesville Schools since 2009. That year the district narrowly lost the approval of a $59.9 million levy for construction needs.

The community voted to approve tax increases on four separate referenda in the years after the loss.

A political action committee will promote the Nov. 6 referendum. Details about the proposed tax increase can be found at milleryes.org.

Middle school teacher Jason Seaman and 7th-grade student Ella Whistler were shot by a 13-year-old student the morning of May 25 after he left Seaman's class and returned with two handguns. Seaman stopped the shooting, according to students in the classroom.

The boy shot Whistler seven times and Seaman three times. The 13-year-old would have faced two felony charges of attempted murder and nine other counts if he were an adult. He is being tried as a juvenile due to state law.

WFYI is not naming the suspect because he is not being tried as an adult.

The boy is expected to be in Hamilton County Circuit Court in September for a fact-finding hearing.


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