Landslide ‘Yes’ in WL referendum

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I wanted to post this story because it’s relevant to the research I’m currently doing on the schools in the area.  View Meranda Watling’s story the Journal and Courier here.

Mary Beth Boyd couldn’t hold back her tears on Tuesday night when she heard the results of the West Lafayette schools property tax referendum.

Boyd, past president of the West Side teachers union, was crying tears of joy as the supporters gathered at Bruno’s for a celebration and declared a landslide victory in favor of the schools’ tax increase.

“I’m elated,” Boyd said as she hugged other teachers and parents.

“This was the one goal, the only option for us because we had really looked at every possible solution and nothing else was going to work.”

The referendum — approved by a nearly two-to-one margin — will increase taxes by up to 43 cents per $100 assessed value for seven years starting in 2011. That is expected to raise an additional $3.5 million for the school district annually for its general fund.

The district will use that money to retain its teachers and keep in place programs — from arts to athletics — officials had said were threatened by ongoing state funding reductions.

Superintendent Rocky Killion said he was humbled and honored by the support the community gave its schools.

“We have a great community and great parents, students and staff,” Killion said. “I know we have a lot of work to do moving forward, and we want to continue to be as efficient as possible while maintaining our award-winning programs.”

Amy French, the mom of two who helped lead the volunteer campaigners, said she was “absolutely awe-inspired by the reaction this community gave to this cause.”

For Madeline Ehrlich, a West Lafayette High School junior, the lessons she learned volunteering for the campaign will stick with her.

“The West Side schools have given me my education and so much, it was my turn to give back,” Ehrlich said of why she volunteered. As for what she learned? “I could make a difference. All the hours I put in were worth it.”

Meanwhile, Brian Walker, who had been chairman of the political committee opposed to the referendum, said that while disappointed with the results, he’s happy his group could raise awareness and encourage patrons to ask for accountability.

“We hope there’s some transparency and accountability moving forward and the school board understands, even though they won the right to raise tax dollars, that they take into account revenue from the (tax increment financing) district and accept transfer students … and possibly may need a school tax increase of only half of what they set the cap for.”

One of the taxpayers affected will be John Basham, who owns a number of rental properties in West Lafayette. He said he estimates his tax impact from the referendum could be as high as $175,000, which he’ll have to find somewhere.

“It puts us back seven years,” Basham said. “If you keep throwing money at the schools, (the state legislature will) never correct the problem” of school funding.


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