Three school systems to vote on referendums Tuesday
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent May 4, 2013 11:29PM
Polls in Boone Township and Union Township in Porter County, and Munster in Lake County, will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for voting on school referendums.
Updated: June 6, 2013 6:59AM
Bill Fairbairn and his wife, Lindsay, have three children in the Union Township schools, and a fourth child will start there in August 2014.
As Tuesday’s election on a referendum for the Union Township School Corp. approaches, Fairbairn, who’s lived in Union Township for 10 years, fears the referendum will fail, for that would mean cutting teachers and programs.
“I’m just concerned that it’s not going to pass. It’s up in the air — I’m worried,” he said. “Obviously, it’s got to pass. We can’t have these middle school students missing out on all these programs they want to cut out. It’s all about the kids.”
Voters in Union Township will join those in Boone Township and Munster in voting on school referendums to raise money for their general funds, which support staff.
Superintendents in all three school corporations have said if the referendums don’t pass, they will make cuts to school programs, hurting the quality of the education their schools provide.
The superintendents also have said they have slashed their budgets already to make up for less funding from the state.
In Munster, the proposal would increase taxes by 19.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a house valued at $244,835, the increase would add $253 to the tax bill.
In the Metropolitan School District of Boone Township, the referendum asks for an increase not to exceed 23.38 cents per $100 assessed valuation. For a house valued at $145,000, it would add $144 to the tax bill.
And in Union Township, the referendum would increase taxes up to 22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, adding $215 to the tax bill on a house valued at $200,000.
The school corporations stand to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars — if not millions of dollars — from their budgets if the referendums don’t pass.
Munster Superintendent Richard Sopko has said his district will have to make $3.8 million in cuts if the referendum fails. George Letz, the superintendent in Boone Township, has said that figure for his district is $530,000, enough for 10 teachers. In Union Township, Superintendent John Hunter has said his district stands to lose $1 million, or about one-tenth of its budget.
For Bill Fairbairn, the tax increase in Union Township will cost him $180 a year, which he said is worth it
“If they cut programs, that’s going to deter people from moving to the community and helping it grow,” he said.
In all, seven school corporations across the state are holding special elections. One other referendum is to raise money for a school corporation’s general fund; the other three are for construction.
“We’ll see what happens,” Fairbairn said. “I have a feeling it may fail and they will have to cut staff.”