School safety referendum personal for Johnson County parent


JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) - We're now a week away from the mid-term elections and it's not just politicians hoping to win votes at the polls.

Several school districts are asking for money to improve safety for students.

And that push has become personal for a father in Johnson County.

When crisis hit the classroom at Noblesville West, a lot of parents wanted to do something to protect their own children.

Matt McGovern, a dad in Clark-Pleasant Schools, felt that all too clearly.

"My wife is a teacher in the school corporation. My daughter is a seventh grader in the school corporation. I recently had a co-worker whose daughter had a seventh grader up in Noblesville," McGovern explained. "She was sitting outside when the shooter went into the classroom. So she was sitting in the hallway. So, her life's changed forever. I didn't want that to happen to my family. As soon as that happened, I said I've got to get involved any way that I can."

McGovern, who says he normally avoids politics, joined a political action committee and started advocating for an issue on the ballot in Johnson County next week.

He's one of 12 people heading up and raising money through the "Safe And Nurturing Schools" PAC.

Clark-Pleasant Schools is asking voters to approve a $1.5 million dollar referendum to enhance school safety.

That's an extra $48 a year in property taxes for the average homeowner.
McGovern has been putting up signs, knocking on doors, explaining the plan at community events.

"Most of the feedback so far is 'yes we're for it'. We do see a need. The mental health is a big aspect of that," McGovern said.

The tax hike would help pay for mental health counselors and a school resources officer in every school building in the district.

"There are three SRO's now and there are nine buildings and that's a challenge. Great school corporation. It's just spread out and we need more resources," McGovern explained.

The referendum would also earmark money for security camera monitoring and electronic scanners for visitors to get a sort-of background check at entrances.

Some critics of the plan say it's not specific enough.

For example, it's not clear yet if the police presence will take the form of a new district police force or if it will utilize officers from nearby departments like Greenwood, Whiteland and Johnson County.

But McGovern says those details shouldn't stop voters from the greater goal of preventing potential tragedy.

"It hit close to home but not right here yet. And I don't want it to. So again, anything I can do within my power to keep something from occurring, I'm going to do that."

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