Voters in Duneland
will decide whether or not the Duneland School Corporation can continue
benefiting from a supplemental property tax levy via a referendum on this
year’s primary election ballot.
Voters will be
asked to check yes or no on allowing the Duneland Schools to continue to
impose a supplemental property tax rate not to exceed 22 cents for each $100
of assessed valuation.
unanimously approved a resolution to pose that question on the day of the
upcoming primary, Tuesday, May 7.
Brandon Kroft said the Board has a lot of work ahead, and he looks forward
to the support of the community.
Before the vote,
three members of the public spoke in support of the Board’s decision to seek
a renewal of the referendum that Duneland voters passed by a slim margin in
First was Bobbi
Hall, who spoke on behalf of the Duneland Teacher’s Association. “I want to
thank our community members, our taxpayers, for their fantastic phenomenal
support through the referendum that they so graciously took upon themselves
seven years ago,” said Hall.
Hall went on to say
that the referendum has helped to support programs like the robotics team at
Westchester Intermediate, which was recognized by the Board earlier in the
evening for excellence at a recent competition. Hall also said that the
teachers at Duneland have been working every day since the referendum was
passed to return that investment to Duneland’s taxpayers in the form of
Next up was Anne
Stark, who began with the statistic that 80 percent of Indiana public
schools have sought supplemental property tax levies via referendum since
drastic changes in school funding took affect a decade ago.
Stark said Duneland
is lucky that its referendum passed the first time because the extra funding
helps attract and retain quality teachers and provide resources for
instruction and additional programming.
“The teachers of
the Duneland Teacher’s Association are committed to continue working with
our community to demonstrate the importance of renewing this referendum,”
parent of a recent Duneland grad and a current student, also lent his
support for the measure. Gardner said he hopes the community will support
the referendum so Duneland can continue providing the same level of
education it always has.
Prior to 2008,
local property taxes had supported Duneland’s general fund by default. State
statute regarding school funding changed that year when the Indiana General
Assembly ruled that public school general funds would be funded exclusively
from state tuition support on a per student basis.
When the funding
formula was changed, statute also changed to allow schools to collect a
supplemental property tax rate of up to 22 cents per $100 of assessed
valuation upon the passage of a referendum. The referendum must be renewed
every seven years.
Due to a 2018
change in state law, there is no longer a general fund, and most of
Duneland’s expenses are grouped into an education fund and an operations
fund. The education fund is only to be used on expenses that directly impact
students. Duneland’s student-facing costs are still funded only by state
tuition support under that model.
The language of the
referendum question leaves the Board the option to seek a lower rate, which
they have briefly discussed at recent meetings. Duneland’s supplemental tax
rate started at 20 cents per $100 of assessed valuation in 2013 and
increased to the maximum of 22 cents the next year, where it stayed.
Duneland CFO Lynn
Kwilasz provided the Chesterton Tribune with charts detailing how the
referendum funds were used each year, the information from which was
subsequently published in a Nov. 23 story titled, “How have the Duneland
Schools referendum funds been spent?”