WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) – The Westfield Washington School District said it would seek support in the November election for an updated operational referendum.
District leaders propose to renew their current referendum at a lower tax rate for property taxpayers in the area.
If the referendum is approved by voters, the rate would drop from 20 cents to 17 cents, which they say represents a 15% drop. The funds would be used to retain current staff, maintain class sizes, keep teacher salaries competitive and add student programs.
If the referendum fails, the district would lay off staff, programs would be cut, and plans for future programs would be halted.
The election will take place on November 8. Early voting will begin on October 12.
District leaders have already held a community meeting to discuss the referendum. The final two meetings will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Westfield High School and at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Westfield Middle School.
The district serves over 9,000 students. Its enrollment this school year has increased by more than 350 children, and leaders expect that number to rise.
District leaders say previously approved referenda have shown a continued trend of cutting taxes by 3%. Superintendent Paul Kaiser said: “We believe it is important to be good stewards of taxpayers’ money and asset valuation, meaning that the value of all properties in Westfield is increasing and because the way the taxes are done allows us to lower the rate and we will still bring in the same amount of money.
The value of taxable property in the District of Westfield Washington multiplied by the tax rate equals the amount of money going to public schools. Kaiser said as the value of the property increases, the district can lower the tax rate and bring in the same amount of money.
Joshua Andrews, communications director for Westfield Washington Schools, said that as people move to the area, they can distribute that tax impact among the higher ratepaying population. “So each person feels that less as we continue to make the same progress as a school district.”
The referendum renewal came a year earlier than expected for school district leaders, who put it on the ballot.
If the referendum passes on November 8, it would replace the current referendum and last for the next eight years.
“If it doesn’t pass this year, we have another year on our current operational referendum, and then we either have to drop it and lose all the money we can get, or have another referendum in 366 days,” he said. said Andrews. “If it were to fail this year, we should immediately start making cuts and changes and reducing programs because we have to plan for the unfortunate event that if it fails once in a while in 366 days, that’s 8 million of dollars. .”
Kaiser said, “We will always bring the same amount of money to serve our teachers and our children within the school corporation. The bottom line is that we’ve been very good at managing the school district’s money and if we don’t win, we’ll have to increase class sizes from 24 to 30, which will be devastating for our teachers.”
Future programs and programs that would be threatened in the referendum are not adopted, including “such as science and orchestra, welding programs, landscape management, fire safety production, which we would like to launch, all those- these would be put on the back burner if we lose the referendum,” Kaiser said.