INDIANAPOLIS — Five local school districts paid close attention as primary voting results rolled in Tuesday.
Combined, school districts in Edinburgh, Franklin Township, Lebanon, Mt. Vernon, and Perry Township asked for more than $280 million to raise teacher salaries, offer more classes and build new schools.
Edinburgh Community School Corporation
The Edinburgh School Construction Referendum passed with 66% of the votes being in favor of the referendum and 34% saying "no" to the referendum.
The district said it would consolidate in five years if voters didn't approve an operating referendum. The district asked for an extra $742,719 a year over eight years. The superintendent says he wants to use the money to expand bus routes, pay teachers more and add some additional academic courses.
Franklin Township Community School Corporation
With 99% of the precincts reporting, Franklin Township's School Referendum has a majority (62%) of "no" votes.
School leaders brought a referendum to voters for the first time. Asking for a $98 million construction referendum is needed to renovate the high school. The district says the high school’s infrastructure needs major improvements. The district says it also wants to renovate classrooms so they’re bigger to accommodate a growing student body.
The district sent the following statement to 13News in response to the referendum failing:
We are disappointed that the referendum question to finance the needed expansion of and renovation of our schools wasn’t approved. We still need to address facility challenges that are caused by Franklin Central High School’s age and an ongoing enrollment boom that made FTCSC the state’s fastest-growing school district from 2019 to 2021.
These issues will not go away, and costs to address them will only increase in the future. We won’t see a plan this affordable again. In the meantime, we will do the best we can with the existing facilities. Our dedicated staff will see that students continue to have excellent learning opportunities that have been our hallmark as one of the state’s highest-performing districts. We are confident that we share a common goal among all township residents of supporting our children’s needs, including facilities that meet enrollment realities and contemporary learning approaches.
Lebanon Community School Corporation
Lebanon voters passed not one, but two referenda: a $102 million construction referendum to build a new elementary school and a $31 million operating referendum to retain and attract teachers and enhance academic programs.
Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation
The Mt. Vernon School Construction Referendum passed with 55% of the votes being in favor of the referendum and 45% saying "no" to the referendum.
Mt. Vernon schools asked for $25.6 million over the next eight years. The district wants the money to hire more school resource officers, so it has at least one at each elementary or middle school and two SROs monitoring the high school.
The district also says it needs the money so it can hire more teachers as student enrollment increases. The formula is usually 10 new teachers for every 150 new students. Without the money, the district says class sizes may increase. It may also have a hard time attracting and retaining teachers because it won’t be able to increase salaries for schoolteachers and staff.
The district says legislation passed by lawmakers over the years has also limited its funding stream over the years. Also, in December it will lose $3.3 million in increment dollars.
The school district sent the following statement to 13News about the referendum passing:
The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation commends our entire community for their engagement and support of the $.17 operating referendum. Mt. Vernon will be able to maintain our programming and low class sizes. The referendum funds will also be allocated to hire more school resource officers so each building will have security presence and the high school will have two officers. In addition, our teachers’salaries will increase and our classified staff pay will increase to a more competitive level. Our Operations Fund will be sustainable as the referendum funds will help replace the loss of our 10-year increment funds.
Perry Township School Corporation
With 99% of the precincts reporting, the Perry Township School Referendum has a majority (61%) of "yes" votes.
Unlike the other districts, Perry Township didn't ask for a tax increase, but for voters to keep paying the same amount. The district said it needed the current referendum extended so it could continue to offer bus service to all students. The district said 230 positions, including 193 teaching jobs, are tied to the $19 million the operating referendum brings in.
The district also hoped new ballot language wouldn't confuse voters. Lawmakers changed the laws last year requiring districts “include the estimated average percentage increases certified by the county auditor” they were also required to submit plans on how money will be used which you can review here.
The district sent 13News a statement that reads in part:
The district is grateful for the results of this election. We are encouraged by the YES vote. It means the community understands the importance of quality education. We consider the YES vote a win-win for not just the students, teachers and staff, but the community as a whole. Strong Schools means Strong Community!
Perry Township Schools will continue to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. A heartfelt thank you to everyone in Perry Township: those who voted for the referendum and those who did not. We are deeply grateful for your support!