South Bend leaders host public forum on upcoming million dollar referendum

NOW: South Bend leaders host public forum on upcoming million dollar referendum

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend Community School leaders are pleading with the public to vote yes to a referendum that will be on the ballot this May.

The district lost $12 million dollars in funding due to property tax caps this year, and they're set to lose nearly $70 million over the next eight years.

The first of a series of meetings planned to educate the public on the ins and outs of the referendum was held Wednesday at Washington High School. What district leaders want the community to understand is that this referendum is almost necessary for south bend schools to stay afloat.

“So we’re asking people to increase their taxes just by a few dollars,” SBCSC Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings said. “That will support teachers, it will ensure college and workforce readiness for our students and it will help ensure we have safe and secure buildings.”

The referendum will increase property taxes for home owners about 39 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Some who attended Wednesday’s meeting said they are just not sold on the idea of voting yes.

“I’m overall very concerned; I don’t believe that it’s going to pass,” Kathleen Anastos said, who will be affected by referendum. “I don’t support the referendum right now due to the lack of transparency from the corporation.”

The referendum is part of an 8 year financial plan to stabilize the struggling school district. If it doesn’t pass school leaders say they will need to make severe cuts.

“If the referendum does not pass a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. It’s going to affect the community; it’s going to affect the students. Reporter: And you still want to vote no? Kathleen: unless something drastically changes, at this point I can’t support the referendum.”

Kathleen says in order for her to vote yes, she wants to see a clear cut plan from district leaders on how they’re going to improve schools with the money. Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings said that’s why he’s hosting these meetings.

 “I knew when I became superintendent that we needed build trust and create transparency. And we’ve done that. We’ve done that with audits, we’ve done that with talks with Todd, and we’ve done that with board meetings. We’re attached to the success of South Bend. If we’re successful, we can help south bend be successful as well,” Cummings said.

The upcoming referendum public forums are as follows:

  • 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday at Mount Carmel Church, 1620 S. St Joseph St.
  • 5:30-7 p.m. March 11 at Charles Black Center, 3419 W. Washington St.
  • 5:30-7 p.m. March 12 at Civil Rights Heritage Center, 1040 W. Washington St.
  • 12:30-2 p.m. March 14 at Howard Park, 219 S. St Louis Blvd.
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