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Three out of four Indiana school referendums get voters' seals of approval

Two people stand silhouetted against a sign that says, "Vote yes for Pike Township students."
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
MSD Pike Township, Fremont and Brown County's referendums were passed by voters Tuesday while Blue River Valley's referendum was rejected.

Four Indiana school corporations asked voters in their districts to raise property taxes to pay for teachers and staff. Those corporations are Brown County Schools, Blue River Valley Schools, Fremont Community Schools and the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township.

Voters in three school districts approved their ballot referendums. But Blue River Valley’s district voters did not.

This was Blue River Valley’s first referendum. The district asked voters for nearly $360,000 over the course of eight years. Superintendent Trent McCormick said prior to Tuesday's election the referendum was critical for maintaining staff and services.

The referendum was defeated by more than 83 percent. Only about 17 percent of voters approved the tax increase.

Information posted to Blue River Valley's website that analyzes information from collective bargaining agreements shows the corporation has the lowest starting pay of all districts in both Henry and Wayne counties. McCormick said that makes it hard to recruit and hang on to quality teachers.

The school corporation also faces declining enrollment – which equates to decreased funding. The district worked with a financial consultant and developed a plan to cut costs and attract new students in addition to the referendum.

Now, the district will have to find other ways to retain teachers.

“Just like we do at home, you have to evaluate your budget, your expenses and income, and you have to start making cuts across the board so that you can pay your bills and take care of business,” McCormick said. “It's that simple. It's going to likely impact personnel, programing and facilities.”

The referendum at Fremont Community Schools was more narrowly approved by 51.7 percent of voters, KPC News reported. That referendum will net Fremont about $2.4 million over eight years.

The additional funding will prevent layoffs, attract new teachers and fund $300,000 of the district’s essential operations. It will also provide students with technology and improve safety and behavioral programs, according to the school district’s website.

The money from the referendum will allow Fremont to retain extracurriculars, Spanish classes, a kindergarten through fourth grade science teacher, two special education teachers in each school and a school resource officer.

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MSD of Pike Township in Indianapolis also saw its referendum pass. About $9 million of Pike’s $14.5 million referendum will fund staff retention, recruitment and professional development, but Pike will also spend about $4.5 million on programming to combat learning loss. The remaining $1 million will be used for school safety and security.

Pike’s referendum passed 58.8 percent to 41.2 percent.

Brown County Schools asked voters for more than$1.8 million. Most of the money will be used for staff salaries, benefits and programs. However, $187,905 were earmarked for a career resource center.

According to the Brown County Democrat, 54.8 percent of voters approved the referendum.

Brown County Schools’ website said the referendum would allow the district to provide competitive wages to teachers and staff. It would also reinstate programs like theater, career and technical education courses and increase or expand special education, mental health supports, band and choir.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.