By Ray Balogh
SYRACUSE — The special meeting of the Wawasee Community School Corporation board of trustees Monday, July 20, lasted only 12 minutes, but the board’s action could have districtwide impact for the next eight years.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to put a tax levy referendum to the school corporation’s voters on the Tuesday, Nov. 3, ballot.
The exact language of the referendum is:
“For the eight (8) calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall Wawasee Community School Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed twenty-eight and five tenths cents ($0.285) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other property taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purpose of funding the expansion of safety and security measures, and the retention and expansion of school programming and instruction, including career-and-technical education and adult education?”
The executive action, the first of its kind for the school corporation, was prompted by “anticipated state budget cuts and mounting losses related to state support of charter schools and voucher programs,” according to a press release sent out by the board.
“We believe our constituents understand the importance of great schools in the community and the role they play in building a strong local economy,” wrote the board. “We also believe we have been, and continue to be, great stewards of the fiscal resources we have been given.”
The board noted changes in diploma requirements imposed by the state department of education “has necessitated significant expansion of Career Technology Education pathway opportunities to earn high school diplomas. Without additional funds, the school corporation may be forced to eliminate programs and opportunities for Wawasee students and families.”
The CTE program offers scores of practical classes in agriculture, architecture and construction, communications, business and marketing, health science, cosmetology, civil engineering, welding, fire and rescue, aviation and automotive services.
The additional funding will be used to “expand safety and security measures, retain and expand school programming and instruction and grow our career and technical education opportunities as well as give us the ability to offer adult education programming for the community,” according to the press release.
James Flecker, the corporation’s director of finance, said at the meeting, “We have the lowest tax rate in the region and in the state. Since 2008 when schools have been required to have a referendum for additional funding, 200 of the almost 300 school districts in the state have requested levy increases.
“With this levy, we will still be the lowest in the region and in the bottom third in the state.”
In other business, Superintendent Tom Edington thanked the corporation’s staff and employees for their work during the high school’s recent outdoor graduation ceremony. “It was a good day for our senior class to say goodbye,” he said. “It was just a special time.”