TRI-CREEK SCHOOLS RUN OPERATING REFERENDUM
School District Seeks Support, Strives to Educate Public on Misleading Ballot Question
Lowell, IN, February 20 - Ranked in the Top 25% for academic student achievement and in the Bottom 20% for per-student state funding, the Tri-Creek School Corporation is now forced to ask the community for support and invest in the future generation to avoid major layoffs and cuts to student programming.
Despite a concerted effort on several money-saving decisions in the past few years, the “heart and soul” of the Lowell and surrounding communities can no longer remain competitive with other school districts, not to mention fast food restaurants; cannot compete with the property tax cap that has negatively impacted the school district by more than $1.1 million in the last three years alone and is estimated to lose more than $589,000 in upcoming year. According to Superintendent Andy Anderson, “the property tax cap is great for homeowners, but schools lose out on money that normally would have been a part of annual revenue”. The impact is on the bottom line, and Tri-Creek is out of options. Even though Indiana lawmakers have done well to increase funding for schools, the amount each school corporation receives from Indiana is based on a formula which has put Tri-Creek schools near the bottom of the list.
On May 2, 2023 residents in West Creek, Cedar Creek, and Eagle Creek Townships will have the opportunity to go to the polls to vote “yes” or “no” on a ballot question that references a school property tax increase of “25.5% for homeowners and 24.5% for business property”, but school personnel indicate the ballot question can be very misleading for a lot of people. While the school portion of property tax bills is often the largest portion, the $0.205 per $100 of assessed value –not market value – is only for the school portion of the overall tax bill, which many tend to overlook. The percentages referenced in the ballot question is an estimated average of what schools will take in – not the actual increase.
Tri-Creek schools want community members to understand the school tax rate year after year for an easier comparison. The school tax rate is a portion of the overall tax bill. For 2023, the school tax rate is $1.05. For 2024, the school tax rate is estimated to be $0.93 due to debt “falling off” the books. If the school operating referendum passes, the $0.205 is added to the approximate $0.93 for an estimated total of $1.135 in 2024 –just 8.5 cents more than in 2023.
Superintendent Anderson acknowledges that no one likes to spend more money. “This is a matter of whether or not you believe in and support the schools, its students, and the many people who live locally and work for the largest employer in the community.”
For more detailed information regarding the school referendum in addition to an “investment calculator” that estimates the potential investment for each property owner, visit the school district’s homepage at https://www.tricreek.k12.in.us/about/referendum.