What the ECS school funding referendum means for the city of Elkhart

ELKHART, Ind. -- Elkhart Community School’s newest referendum will impose an 8-year tax hike on property owners within the district, that would generate about $15.25 million annually for 8 years.

School officials explaining that taxpayers are already paying a portion of this, about $62 worth under the current transportation referendum. If the new proposal is successful, homeowners would only be asked to pay an additional $120 each year or $10 per month.

The money would go toward increasing employee salaries, for both teachers and bus drivers while also reducing the cost of health insurance for workers. The district is currently struggling to maintain staff, with neighboring schools offering more competitive wages. Therefore, superintendent Steve Thalheimer says voting down the referendum would force cuts to school programs.  

"We would almost certainly eliminate if not greatly reduce the number of field trips,” says Thalheimer. “Again, we'd have some money that would be carrying us through to December with the funds that are available yet, but once, we hit January then those funds dry up." 

The district has made several budget cuts since 2010 including teachers’ salaries, cutting prep time, and not filling positions following teacher retirement, among other cutbacks.

Holly Stanfill, says voting yes on this referendum will not only show that the community supports Elkhart teachers, but that the city is also invested in the education of their youth.

"Getting that yes on May 4th, not only does it give me hope for my future financially and for my colleagues and everyone who works at our schools to be compensated appropriately and that we're going to have that longevity and that stability in our schools, but it also says that Elkhart is also passionate about education," says Stanfill.

For further information about the referendum or the future town halls, visit here.

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