Take A Look At The Next Round Of Indiana's School Funding Referenda

Oct 30, 2018

Candidates aren’t the only ones with high hopes during election season, as schools turn to voters for more funding support. This November there are a dozen school construction and operations referenda up for consideration – that’s more than any other November election since 2010.

But local tax expert and Purdue professor of agricultural economics Larry DeBoer says school referenda are still pretty rare statewide. About 60 percent of districts have never asked voters to approve additional funding for their schools.

“Those that have not tried tend to have lower county incomes, they tend to have lower assessed values and they tend to have lower enrollment growth,” he says.

Schools can propose measures for construction projects, operations funding, or both, to voters. Construction referenda come with a total price tag for specific projects and a tax rate for collecting that money. Operations levies, on the other hand, offer a maximum additional tax rate for voters to consider that expire in eight years or less.

Indianapolis Public Schools is asking voters to approve more than $270 million in funding, after withdrawing a pair of referenda from ballots in May. The district is hoping to win approval for a $52 million construction measure and an operations levy aimed at collecting $220 million over eight years.

The Lake Ridge School Corporation is the only other district asking for a boost in both construction and operating funds. Voters there will consider a pair of measures from the district with a combined tax rate hike of more than $2 per $100 of a property’s value.

DeBoer says based on past data, tax rates above about 25 cents don’t seem to impact whether referenda measures pass or fail, but Lake Ridge’s proposal would be the highest tax increase from any Indiana school referenda, ever.

“In the last 10 years of tax referenda we’ve never had a tax increase even close to that,” he says.

Many school corporations with questions on the ballot want more funding for safety improvements, including Noblesville, Clark-Pleasant and Wa-Nee Community Schools.

The Cannelton City School Corporation is retrying a referendum that failed by just three votes in May 2017. It would extend the life of a tax passed by area voters in 2010.

Learn more about other proposed funding measures and how potential rate changes could impact your property taxes below. And for a calculation of how much in additional taxes homeowners could pay per referenda, check out our calculator.

Construction Referenda

  • Indianapolis Public Schools - Marion County Total cost: $52,000,000 Tax rate: .0332 / per $100
  • Lake Ridge School Corp. - Lake County Total cost: $44,340,000 Tax rate: 1.1192 / per $100
  • Manchester Community Schools - Wabash County Total cost: $16,660,000 Tax rate: .3885 / per $100

Operating Referenda

  • Cannelton City School Corporation - Perry County Tax rate: .4100 / per $100 for 7 years
  • Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation - Johnson County Tax rate: .10 / per $100 for 8 years
  • Culver Community School Corporation - Marshall County Tax rate: .17 / per $100 for 8 years
  • Hamilton Community School Corporation - DeKalb and Steuben Counties Tax rate: .7188 / per $100 for 8 years Indianapolis Public Schools, Marion County Tax rate: .1960 / per $100 for 8 years
  • Lake Ridge School Corporation, Lake County Tax rate: 1.0028 / per $100 for 8 years
  • Noblesville School Corporation, Hamilton County Tax rate: .37 / per $100 for 8 years
  • Prairie Heights Community School Corporation, LaGrange County Tax rate: .2143 / per $100 for 8 years
  • Wa-Nee Community School Corporation, Elkhart County Tax rate: .0959 / per $100 for 8 years