Why is a referendum necessary?
The school system has needed to operate with a high rate of efficiency since 1972 when the State of Indiana froze local tax levies leaving MCCSC well below the maximum. During the early days of the recession in 2009, the State of Indiana cut more than $300 million to school funding in addition to making basic changes in how the Legislature funded schools. The result was another significant and ongoing loss of funding for the MCCSC. The referendum fund is essential to close the funding gap left by State cuts. Currently, MCCSC tax rates are the 8th lowest in the state. At $0.63 per $100 of property value, which includes our referendum levy of $0.09 in 2022, this is significantly less than most school districts our size.
In 2010, voters approved the MCCSC operating levy and in 2016, voters renewed it. The MCCSC $7.3 million operating levy is set to expire this year. If the referendum fails, the district will have to reduce its budget by $7.3 million. 93% of the current referendum dollars go to teachers and staff salaries.
Who can vote on the referendum continuation?
All registered voters in the MCCSC District can vote on the referendum continuation. This includes all the townships in Monroe County with the exception of Richland and Bean Blossom. In order to pass, the referendum continuation must be approved with a “YES” vote by the majority of individuals voting. If passed, the continuation would go into effect January 2023, just as the current referendum expires.
Are other schools in Indiana placing questions on the ballot for operating costs and how do we compare?
Yes. According to the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University, 69 school referenda have occurred in Indiana requesting operational funding from 2009 through 2015. As time has passed, voter response has become significantly more supportive. In 2009 and 2010, there were 28 requests for operational funding with only 46 percent passing. In 2014 and 2015, there were 23 requests for operational funding with 74 percent passing. From 2009 to 2015, the average requested tax rate increase by schools in Indiana for operating referenda was for .2648, nearly twice the rate of .1402 provided to MCCSC in 2010.
What will funds from continuing the referendum maintain?
Teacher salaries – $4,500 raise per teacher, per year, to make MCCSC more competitive to recruit and retain teachers
Support staff – $2.25/hour support staff raise to increase wages to market rates
Educational services – Additional total spending of $1.2 million per year in each of the following areas: Special Education Services; Performing Arts/STEM/Special Programming; Additional Staff Support Services
What are the consequences if the referendum is not continued?
Following the state cuts to the budget in 2009, the MCCSC was forced to eliminate 68 teaching positions and many programs within and outside the classroom including Bradford Woods and Honey Creek, alternative high school offerings, and extracurricular activities. This painful experience led voters to approve the 2010 referendum with over 60 percent of the community voting YES. The MCCSC would be forced to make similar difficult decisions should the referendum fail this November.