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South Bend school official: "Vote for the referendum and hold us accountable"

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The South Bend Community School Corporation is urging residents to say yes to an upcoming referendum to help the district’s finances. 

The corporation is set to lose $12 million in 2020, due to a state law that places caps on property taxes. So far, the law has cost the corporation to lose nearly $70 million over eight years. 

“It will be detrimental to the south bend schools if this does not go through,” said Kareemah Fowler, SBCSC Chief Financial Officer.

The district has taken the following steps to save and generate money:

  • It most recently switched to an outside school lunch provider,
  • It’s currently looking at ways for building to be energy efficient, 
  • In 2018, it closed four schools. 

Without taking these steps and a possible referendum, Fowler said the district won’t see the money lost due to tax caps anytime soon. 

“School funding is extremely restrictive,” said Fowler. 

And South Bend schools are not alone. 

Educators from across the state rallied in Indianapolis for better pay for teachers and improved working and learning conditions. The issue of the state’s Circuit Breaker bill being raised by the state’s top education official. 

A tweet sent out by Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, said Indiana public schools stand to lose $2 billion within a decade. 

“That’s part of why a lot of the teachers are done there now because they see funds that maybe there that they can be using to do creative things,” said Fowler. 

But now it’s SBCSC officials like Fowler that must be creative. 

According to the corporation, the solution is a referendum approving a hike in taxes. Property taxes would increase from 37 cents to 39 cents for every $100 of assessed value. 

According to Fowler, the referendum would generate about $75 million for the corporation’s facilities and operations. 

“It always controversial when you’re going for a tax increase however you do have to really think about what you’re giving up and what you could be gaining,” said Fowler. 

The school corporation will have a public hearing on Wednesday, December 2.

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