Elkhart Community Schools announces referendum aimed toward increased employee pay

ELKHART, Ind. – Elkhart Community Schools (ECS) and Stronger Elkhart PAC have announced a referendum to be on the Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 ballot for Elkhart Community Schools district residents to vote on.

The referendum proposes an increase in employee pay in order to compete with neighboring districts, reducing health care costs for all employees, and maintaining safe, suitable transportation.

“The funds from the transportation referendum from 2014 expire at the end of 2021,” stated Superintendent Dr. Steve Thalheimer of Elkhart Community Schools, “In order for us to keep that funding in place for 2022 and provide uninterrupted service for our students, we need to renew that referendum.”

Dr. Thalheimer also stresses the number of teachers leaving the profession or moving districts is due to the fact they “are not competitive with what other schools-- many of whom have passed referenda-- are able to pay.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Thalheimer, $1.9 million has been saved due to cuts and restructuring. However, national and state public education funding formulas have not kept with the district’s growing needs, leading ECS to seek a referendum so they deliver on the Elkhart Promise.

The referendum will focus on three key areas:

  • Increase pay for all employees to compete with neighboring districts, as well as help recruit and retain personnel.
  • Reduce out-of-pocket health insurance cost for ECS employees.
  • Providing continual safe transportation for students at current levels, using a significant portion of the referendum to maintain practices at status quo.

The district asks votes to pass the referendum in the amounts of $15.25 million per year for eight years, including the renewal of the expiring transportation referendum of 2014.

A calculator will soon be on the referendum website where residents can calculate their portion, however it estimates to approximately $10 a month for the average homeowner.

The referendum is endorsed by Stronger Elkhart PAC, a group of concerned citizens united for ECS. For more information or to get involved, please visit here.

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