Central Indiana school districts bring forward operating referenda to voters

INDIANAPOLIS — Along with more than 20 mayor’s races across the area, four Central Indiana school districts are bringing forward referenda to their respective constituents on Election Day.

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These referenda, coming from Carmel Clay Schools, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, the Monroe County Community School Corporation and Sheridan Community Schools, are aimed at recruiting and retaining educators, funding safety initiatives and, in one district’s case, funding an early education expansion.

Carmel Clay Schools

On Tuesday, the Carmel Clay Schools will be asking voters to renew its operating referendum that was previously approved in 2017 for eight more years.

The language on the ballot said that voters will decide on whether or not to renew the “existing maximum referendum property tax of $0.19.” Officials said that if it is extended, “it will increase the average property tax paid” on a home and/or business within the district by 28.3%.

While the language in the ballot said there would be an increase of 28.3% if passed, the district stressed on its website that the $0.19 rate itself, the one the district has implemented since 2017, will remain the same. The increase will come from an increase of property value in the area.

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Every year, the operating referendum produces around $24 million for the district, which is aimed to generate additional funds for the district to “provide competitive compensation and benefits for teachers and staff, as well as educational programming that supports (the district’s) students.”

According to the district’s proposed revenue spending plan, the district expects to receive $23,956,464 annually, if the levy is passed. The majority of those funds, around $23,500,000, would go towards retaining and attracting teachers, educational staff and other support staff. Officials said the remaining funding will go toward funding educationally related programs.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools

Like Carmel Clay Schools, Hamilton Southeastern Schools will also be asking their voters to continue to renew its operating referendum. However, the renewal is reported to be at a lower maximum referendum tax rate from $0.2275 to $0.1995.

According to the language on the ballot, the voters will be deciding whether or not to continue the $0.1995 rate for eight years. The district expects the average property tax percentage to increase for a home/business in the district by 20.8%, because of increased property values.

However, the district stressed that if the levy passes, the overall tax impact will be reduced by 19.1%. starting in 2024. Officials said the referendum rate is a maximum rate and will be reviewed each year by the district’s board.

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The district said a vote in favor of the levy will ensure that funding for the district remains stable. If the levy is approved, the district will receive $24 million, which is expected to go to funding teacher and staff compensation, retaining teachers and staff, maintaining class sizes and implementing “essential safety initiatives,” including the support of a director of school safety.

Officials with the district stressed this is an extension of the 2016 referendum, which provided the “much-needed funding to lower class sizes, provided competitive teacher salaries and expand student opportunities.”

Monroe County Community School Corporation

The operating referenda on the ballot for the Monroe County Community School Corporation, if passed, would be used to expand the district’s preschool and early education programs, eliminate student and family fees as well as expand the district’s career education program.

Officials from the district said the referendum helps finance unfunded needs for the district, helping support the district’s “equity goal of removing barriers so that all students and families may fully participate in the highest quality educational experience.”

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The question on the ballot asks voters to approve an increase of 8.5 cents to the district’s current referendum rate of 18.5 cents. According to the district’s proposed revenue spending plan, the estimated revenue from the levy, if the referendum is passed, would be $8.5 million, the majority of which would go to expanding and funding free and affordable early childhood education.

“For a home with an assessed value of $250,000, an 8.5-cent increase in the referendum tax rate (which is currently 18.5 cents) translates to an approximate yearly increase of $50,” the district said. “MCCSC assembled and prioritized this list of benefits by identifying currently unfunded needs, especially those that have a disproportionately negative impact on families with lower incomes.”

Sheridan Community Schools

In the referendum for Sheridan Community Schools, the district will be asking voters for a renewal of the district’s tax rate which was first approved in 2017 for the next eight years.

According to the district’s proposed revenue spending plan, the district expects to collect $1,272,995 from the levy, if it is passed by voters.

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The district said the majority of the funding, around $895,995, will go towards retaining and attracting teachers and staff. The remaining funding, around $377,000, is expected to go toward academic-related programs and operational expenses.

In all cases, registered voters are required to bring a valid photo ID to participate. For more information on where Indianapolis residents can vote on Election Day, click here.

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