Crown Point referendum paves way for other school districts

2011-05-03T22:45:00Z 2011-05-03T23:43:30Z Crown Point referendum paves way for other school districtsBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

The Crown Point Community School Corp. has paved the way for local districts seeking voter approval for tax increases to aid in funding shortfalls, region school officials said.

But school corporations still will have to make their cases on a district-by-district basis.

Hebron Superintendent George Letz said he believes passage of a referendum within a district to supplement school budgets depends on the community and how well a school corporation communicates to the public.

Letz's comments followed the successful passage of Crown Point's referendum Tuesday.

"Crown Point was very well organized, and there was no formal opposition to the referendum. There was no group with a name that was vocal about stopping the referendum," he said.

Though Highland school officials are not thinking about a referendum, Superintendent Mike Boskovich said what happened in Crown Point gives the corporation an indication of how a referendum might fare in Highland.

"Obviously, Crown Point has spent a great deal of time and money to put its best foot forward to get the referendum passed," he said. "We all have something to learn from the process."

Lake Central Superintendent Larry Veracco said he drove through Crown Point prior to Tuesday's vote and saw tremendous support for the referendum based on the signs around the city.

Though voters within the Lake Central School Corp. boundaries turned down a $95 million construction referendum a couple of years ago, Veracco said the district intends to ask the community to support another referendum this fall.

Crown Point is not the only school corporation in Indiana that went to taxpayers seeking a tax increase to make up for state funding shortfalls.

Voters in the Avon Community School Corp. in Hendricks County, Franklin Township Community School Corp. in Marion County, and Oak Hill United School Corp. in Grant and Miami counties turned down such referendums.

The MSD Perry Township School Corp. in Marion County had two referendum requests on the ballot -- a $50 million construction referendum and a $10 million general fund referendum. Both referendums passed.

Terry Spradlin, associate director of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University at Bloomington, said referendums that pass have to be extremely well executed.

"People were worried about class size and putting the district at jeopardy. It sounds like Crown Point presented a very compelling message, and the voters rallied around the school district," he said.

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