Election results show Indiana voters mostly supporting school funding referendums

A woman in jeans and wearing a mask leans over a table and holds a pen while other people also sit at the table.
Indiana voters in 11 school districts cast ballots Tuesday on whether to approve property tax referendums for hiring and retaining teachers, funding academic programs and transportation, and more. (Maxine Wallace for Chalkbeat)

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Indiana voters across the state showed support for giving their school districts the green light to use millions of dollars in property tax revenue to hire and retain teachers and fund programs and transportation. 

Unofficial election results on Wednesday showed voters largely in support of property tax referendums in seven of the 11 districts that placed one on the ballot. Fort Wayne schools, along with three school districts in Hamilton County, saw strong support  for their referendums. Monroe County schools’ referendum led Wednesday by just 108 votes.

Meanwhile, three districts in Lake County, including the School City of Hammond, saw the opposite results  from their voters. By Wednesday, Lake Station schools’ referendum was down by only 14 votes.

Property tax referendums have long been a cornerstone of school funding in the state, but local revenue is especially important now as the federal emergency funding that has supported schools throughout COVID begins to sunset. Due to a change in state law this year, certain districts like the School City of Hammond will also need to share any property tax revenue with charter schools. 

Indiana allows districts to ask local residents for three kinds of referendums: construction referendums for renovation and building projects; operating referendums for staff, programs, and services; and safety referendums, the newest type of ballot measure that allows schools to make security improvements and hire school resource officers.

This year, 11 districts sought approval from voters for new referendums or renewals of previous referendums. Below are the unofficial results according to the Indiana Election Division website. 

Operating referendums

Carmel-Clay Schools, Hamilton County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 67.8% yes and 32.3% no.

Rate: $0.19 per $100 of assessed property value for eight years (renewal)

Annual revenue: $24 million 

Highlights from the spending plan: $23 million dedicated to retaining and attracting teachers and staff 

Hamilton Southeastern Schools, Hamilton County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 70.1% yes and 29.9% no.

Rate: $0.1995 per $100 of assessed property value for eight years (renewal at a decreased rate) 

Annual revenue: $24 million 

Highlights from the spending plan: $9 million for attracting and retaining teachers and $5.9 million for maintaining class sizes

Lake Station Community School Corp., Lake County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 49.3% yes and 50.7% no.

Rate: $0.54 per $100 of assessed value for eight years (renewal)

Annual revenue: $1.3 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $466,000 for school bus transportation

Monroe County Community School Corp., Monroe County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 50.5% yes and 49.5% no.

Rate: $0.085 per $100 of assessed value for eight years

Annual revenue: $8.5 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $6 million for funding low-cost preschool, $1.25 million for eliminating K-12 student fees

Northeast Dubois County School Corp., Dubois County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 60.6% yes and 39.4% no.

Rate: $0.18 per $100 of assessed value for eight years (renewal)

Annual revenue: $703,000

Highlights from the spending plan: $390,000 for academic programming

School City of Hammond, Lake County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 28.7% yes and 71.3% no.

Rate: $0.44 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years (renewal)

Annual revenue: $14.6 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $4.8 million for school bus transportation

School City of Whiting, Lake County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 39.8% yes and 60.2% no.

Rate: $0.17 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years

Annual revenue: $1.1 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $418,000 staff recruitment

West Lafayette Community Schools, Tippecanoe County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 80.5% yes and 19.5% no.

Rate: $0.37 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years (renewal)

Annual revenue: $7 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $4.4 million for teacher and staff compensation for managing class sizes

Sheridan Community School Corp., Boone & Hamilton Counties

With 91% of precincts reporting in Hamilton County, the vote is 81.8% yes and 18.2% no in Hamilton County.

With 91% of precincts reporting in Boone County, the vote is 77.5% yes and 22.5% no.

Rate: $0.25 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years (renewal)

Annual revenue: $1.3 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $896,000 for retaining and attracting teachers and staff

Safety referendums

Bluffton Harrison MSD, Wells County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 42.2% yes and 57.8% no.

Rate: $0.075 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years

Annual revenue: $445,000

Highlights from the spending plan: $254,000 for additional school resource officers

Fort Wayne Community School Corporation, Allen County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 53.3% yes and 46.7% no.

Rate: $0.10 cents per $100 of assessed value for eight years

Annual revenue: $12 million

Highlights from the spending plan: $4 million for student advocates

Construction referendums

School City of Hammond, Lake County

With 91% of precincts reporting, the vote is 23.7% yes and 76.3% no.

Rate: $0.4357 per $100 of assessed value for eight years

Revenue: $84 million over 25 years 

Highlights from the spending plan: Renovations and additions at Hammond Central High School and Morton High School

Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at aappleton@chalkbeat.org.

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