By Lucy Perry
Indiana Central News
Voters will have a final say at election time on whether or not property taxes should be raised to help fund struggling local schools.
The proposed property tax increase became a real possibility tonight, just after the Vigo County School Board voted 7-0 in favor of the referendum. Ultimately, residents voting in November will decide if the increase will pass in effort to aid the Vigo County School Corp.
Officials have pointed out multiple challenges in the VCSC., explaining that the bare bones budget has been in the red for two years.
Overall, Superintendent Rob Haworth painted a bleak picture of the school corporation's financial future, during tonight's meeting held at the administration building on Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute.
The school corporation is facing the same challenges as many other districts: Teacher shortages, aging buildings and a dwindling student enrollment.
“The nation is struggling, the state is struggling; and, Vigo County is not growing,” Hayworth said. “If we don’t figure this out, $ 7 million will never be enough.”
Haworth, now completing his first year at the helm of the VCSC, told those in attendance tonight that all other steps have been taken in reducing the budget, adding that, "Nothing is more difficult than closing a building," in the event that is ever on the chopping block down the road.
State and federal funding has decreased along with student enrollment over time, which is not likely to change in the near future.
Haworth pointed out a combination of factors, including school choice, online education and home schooling options – all competing with the VCSC.
Because of changing trends in education, Haworth recently announced that the corporation is launching its own virtual school to compete for student enrollment.
He has met with the community in a series of informational sessions regarding the issues and to encourage feedback.
Meanwhile, property owners will have to wait until fall election to see if a tax hike is at hand, as the VCSC is also looking to build two new high schools soon. If the referendum goes forward, an owner of a $100,000 home can expect to pay about $50 more in property taxes.
For the eight (8) calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall Vigo County School Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed sixteen and twenty-two hundredths cents ( $0.1622) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other property taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purpose of funding safe transportation of students, to maintain safe and secure schools, reduce class sizes and attract and retain the very best teachers and staff for our children?”
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News Writer: Lucy Pery PHONE: 317-527-4141