What is a referendum?

  1. A referendum is a political question that has been referred to voters for a direct decision.
  2. There will be two referendum questions on the June 2 ballot related to the South Bend Community School Corporation.

What are the referendum questions?

  1. The first question will ask voters if they will approve a one-time capital investment of $54 million to update the safety and security of our school buildings.
  2. The second question will ask voters if they approve an eight-year operational investment of $20.8 million per year to pay for things like increased teacher salaries.

Why is the South Bend Community School Corporation asking for this money now?

  • The school corporation must generate funds locally because of cuts in state funding and property taxes. Drops in property taxes, combined with changes in state funding, will result in a decline of $16.6 million this year alone, and will drop millions more in the coming years.
  • Since changes in state law in 2008, school districts across Indiana have passed over 125 referenda to address budgetary constraints. SBCSC has not attempted a referendum over this time period.

Why has funding dropped?

  • Property taxes have historically helped fund county government, cities, towns, townships, school districts, and libraries. Starting in 2020, certain property tax charges will end for homeowners in South Bend. Without those extra dollars, we cannot increase teacher pay, upgrade our buildings' safety and security systems, increase the number of literacy specialists in our schools, and a number of other initiatives necessary to be a competitive school system.
  • State funding has also dropped because we have lost students who use state vouchers to attend religious schools and because of state support for charter schools. We must improve our schools and win those students back.

If I vote “yes” for the referendum questions, how much will it cost me?

  • A “yes” vote for the referendum will cost only two cents more per $100 of assessed value of your home.
  • Examples: Property taxes for a home valued at $75,000 would be $62.55 this year; under the referendum taxes would be $65.95.
  • Property taxes for a home valued at $102,800 would be $130.95 this year; under the referendum, taxes would be $138.18.

If I vote “yes” for the referendum questions, how will schools improve?

(Short list of some of the improvements)

  • A “yes” vote will allow South Bend Community School Corporation Schools to increase the quality and quantity of teachers. The corporation could raise teacher salaries to be locally and regionally competitive. The ability to attract, develop, and retain talented teachers would result in a 50% reduction in teacher vacancies by 2021.
  • Raising teacher salaries would increase the number of experienced teachers and decrease the number of teachers without certifications.
  • Within 3 years, 90% of all teachers could be certified;
  • Within 5 years, 95% of all teachers could be certified.
  • Voting “yes” would allow the completion of installing safe and secure entries in all of our school buildings, eliminating the risk of unwanted intruders.
  • A “yes” vote would allow security cameras to be installed in all secondary schools, improving safety with the ability to capture 100% of activities throughout buildings.
  • A “yes” vote would allow the renovation of an existing building for a Career/Technical/Vocational high school for students, improving graduation rates and providing a path to career success for students.
  • A “yes” vote will help put literacy professionals in every school to improve reading and comprehension in students, ultimately improving graduation rates.

The South Bend School Corporation has been slipping for years. Why should I agree to pump more money into the system?

  • Just as the city of South Bend has turned a corner and is on the upswing, the same can be said for the South Bend Community School Corporation.
  • The new Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings, who has been in office for just seven months, has proven his commitment to turning around SBCSC schools and tightening finances:
    • Saved $900,000 in central office by streamlining and eliminating positions;
    • Saved $600,000 with a technology refresh
    • Save projected $2.6 million/year by outsourcing food services
    • Save projected $2.5 million in energy resources by contracting with Cynergistics
    • Saved $770,000 in property/casualty insurance
    • Central administrative office building for sale
    • Saved $6.7 million by closing/repurposing four schools (Focus 2018)

I don’t have any kids in the South Bend Community schools. Why should I care if the referendum doesn’t pass?

  • If the referendum does not pass, several schools will close, and hundreds of South Bend citizens will lose jobs:
    • food service workers, teachers’ aids, bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, teachers, social workers, counselors, principals, central office employees.
    • Job loss has a direct impact on local economy.
    • Property values will go down
      • The health and vitality of any community is directly related to the health and vitality of its public school system
      • Empty school buildings will decrease desirability of neighborhoods
      • Fewer people will want to live, work, and support South Bend businesses
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