School Referendum 2023?

vote yes or no
Updated: Nov29, 2022

Nov 23, 2022.WE WILL EVALUATE’: Proposed referendum fails on ballot, residents speak on voting ‘yes’ or ‘no by Abigail Youmans.  Now Brown County Schools are reevaluating how to move forward after the proposed operating referendum failed.

Interesting headlines in last week’s (Nov 16) Democrat. Republicans swept local elections and the referendum received a No Vote.  Post at Brown County Matters

Nov 18, 2022. EAGLE CORNER: ‘We’ll do what we need to do’: Superintendent’s thoughts after referendum fails By Emily Tracy, Superintendent Brown County Schools


Regarding the referendum, the first reaction by the Superintendent reported by WTHR is to conduct another referendum in 2023 because the voters were “confused and misled.” Ref: WTHR “‘It felt like a death’ | Brown County voters reject school referendum.

    • “What’s next for the school district? Tracy said they will seek another referendum in 2023, before the current one expires.” –
    • I believe the language on the ballot is confusing and misleading for voters and it is our effort to continue to educate and inform our community.
o. Note that only the school board can approve moving forward with a new referendum – not a school employee. And once citizens understand the full scope of the situation, the number of No Votes on any future referendum will likely significantly increase.

Who is confused? The ”spin” regarding the tax increase was that the language by the state was confusing and misleading. Indiana Law, the math, and the language on the ballot is VERY clear. Example: If the taxable value of the property (assessed value minus deductions) is $87,792, then the total tax is $105.35. (87,792 divided by 100 multiplied by 12 cents), e.g. grade school level math. This is an average 33% increase in the amount of tax paid to the school corporation. To quote: “The average property tax increase paid to the school corporation per year will increase by 33.91% for residences and 20.91% on business property.” Ref: Auditor Julia Reeves, – worksheet submitted to the DLGF.).
Higher Taxes. Higher property taxes may have motivated many citizens to Vote No on the referendum. Under our Constitution, citizens “also” have a civic responsibility to expect the application and demonstration of critical thinking skills, that might support a good argument for a tax increase. A good argument is free of fallacies and would be supported by a comprehensive analysis with supporting detail. The following link identifies the elements of a good argument. The “premise” for the school’s argument is that a referendum should be considered a permanent source of new revenue for the school corporation.…/critica…/


The Spin and Reaction. The superintended took the position of comparing the “expiring” tax (8 cents per 100 of assessed value) to the new 12 cent tax equating the increase (4 cents) as equivalent to a McDonald’s Extra Value Meal or only 3-6 dollars per month. … “If the Brown County Schools referendum would have passed, the median assessed value homeowner would have paid roughly $3 to $6 more per month in property taxes.” .

Many citizens may have considered this spin along with the claims that the state language was “confusing and misleading,” as insulting, demeaning, and professionally unethical without the supporting context. The new tax would transfer over 15 million dollars over 8 years from the citizens to the school corporation – hardly a trivial amount.


A way ahead? The school leadership should review the Guest Columns written by the previous superintendent on the required downsizing as a result of the systemic decline in school enrollment since 2009. They should also explain the school leadership’s opposition to Indiana policies on funding school choice (vouchers, educational savings accounts) and how this may justify their decision for a referendum. A position on opposing vouchers is also supported by the controversial National Education Association (NEA) which is aligned with Indiana’s teacher’s unions.


o. A Good Argument. A good argument and counter-arguments (based on logic and reason as opposed to emotions) supported with a comprehensive assessment and supporting detail would be helpful. This should address why the superintendent believes that closing schools is not a viable option.


o. Managing within the Budget. Likely, the school leadership may find that managing within the budget provided by the state is sufficient. Very few of the 291 school districts in Indiana (reportedly 8 in 2022) opt for a referendum. Three of these eight referendums were rejected by the citizens.


o. County Tax Policy. Note also that the lower property tax rates in Brown County are the result of a deliberate policy decision by Republicans who swept the local elections. The County opted for higher income taxes (among the highest in the State) as opposed to increasing property taxes as the major source of revenue. The lower property taxes are of value to many including the 53.1% of our population in the low to moderate-income categories and to the many that are on fixed incomes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s