Smith-Green schools set to host Q&A about tax referendum

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Like many school districts across Indiana, Smith-Green Community Schools if facing a budget shortfall.

To avoid hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in cuts the school board voted to approve a resolution to place a referendum on the May 8 ballot. SGCS and Northwest Allen County Schools are the only two districts in northeast Indiana with referendums on the May ballot.

SGCS cites property tax caps enacted by voters in 2010 for revenue losses. That and state funding shortfalls has led to a balance that needs more cash to continue meeting needs of students and to continue providing the same level of service.

The proposed referendum would set the maximum tax rate at 62.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value. The additional funding would give SGCS enough funding to support current levels of service and provide the district with a 15 percent cash balance, which is recommended by the State Board of Accounts.

If the referendum fails, SGCS said it would have to slash $600,000 by next school year. Additional cuts would follow, and would likely include teacher cuts, transportation changes, the elimination of some programs and activities for students, and support staff.

The Political Action Committee, Taxpayers for Busco Schools, created by law with the referendum, said online that since 2008, 164 school districts have put referendums on ballots to garner more revenue from taxpayers. 

The district will hold two Q&A sessions with the community, led by Superintendent Daniel Hile. The first session takes place at 7 p.m. at the Boy Scout Building. A second session will be Monday, April 30 at 7 p.m. at the Green Center Community Building.

If passed, a home valued at $100,000 would have a tax liability of $205.67. 

In February, Churubusco Town Council members approved a resolution in support of the referendum. The resolution noted, “…a high quality education community is a key component to a prosperous future for the Town of Churubusco…” 

SGCS is home to Churubusco Elementary School which houses grades K through 5. Churubusco High School houses grades 6 through 12. Both buildings are located next to each other near the center of town.

The district has approximately 1,200 students and 82 teachers, according to 2017-2018 data from the Indiana Department of Education. Home of the Eagles, the district was given a “B” on its 2016-2017 report card.

If approved, the referendum would be in place for 8 years. 

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