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Elkhart schools looking to raise property tax to support education related funding

NOW: Elkhart schools looking to raise property tax to support education related funding

ELKHART, Ind.--- Elkhart Community Schools is seeking a referendum to raise property taxes to help with under-funding issues.

The school district says the average tax for a home would be about $13.80 more per month.

One Elkhart native, Charles Lovejoy, says he’s in favor of the property tax raise to support teachers and public schools.

“A good public education is the basis to everything in our country and without the teachers I had at Memorial I couldn’t have done anything,” said Lovejoy. "They inspired me. They really made it possible to do what I wanted to do.”

Elkhart Superintendent, Steve Thalheimer, said the goal is to improve the quality of education in Elkhart schools.

“It’s outlined in the referendum language,” said Thalheimer. “Its purpose is to help retain teachers, keep down class size, to work on safety measures, and to be able to advance academic programming.”

The superintendent says the current starting salary of a teacher in Elkhart is lower than the majority of surrounding schools, making it hard to retain teachers and programs.

With limited funds from the state that is made through sales tax and income tax, Thalheimer says using property tax is a solution.

"With that money being limited or as it was in 2010 where there was a $300 million cut from schools that was never replaced, those dollars are not available for us to use. And there’s not going to be a massive infusion of new money in the budget," Thalheimer said.

Over the summer, Thalheimer said a teacher was unable to teach a science program, and they weren’t able get a replacement to teach the class. The program was then dropped. The superintendent doesn’t want opportunities to continuously be taken away and or limited to students and staff.

The vote for the tax hike is set to take place May 7, 2019 and if approved, the property tax will start in 2020 to 2027.

More information can be found on the Elkhart Community Schools website here.

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