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Washington Twp. school board to vote on tax hike

Posted at 1:46 PM, Jun 07, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Metropolitan School District of Washington Township school board is expected to vote Wednesday night whether to put two referendums on the November 8 ballot.

MSD Washington Township is seeking a $185 million construction project referendum and a $6.5 million operating referendum.

If approved, the average taxpayer of a $173,200 home (median home price in Washington Township) would pay an extra $26.31 a month.

Members of the community are concerned about the referendum’s impact on John Strange Elementary School, which is plagued with overcrowding, acoustic issues, and a cafeteria too small for current enrollment.

If the construction referendum passes, John Strange would likely cease operation as an elementary school and would be used instead as a special education preschool, staff childcare, community preschool, or for professional space such as district technology support.

“They do not need the space for more and more administrators,” a concerned citizen told Call 6 Investigates.

Several concerned citizens spoke with Call 6 Investigates but said they did not want to be identified for fear the district would retaliate against them if they appeared to be “anti-referendum.” 

Parents who live near John Strange say if the referendum passes, children in the surrounding neighborhoods will be reassigned to two other schools, Allisonville or the newly built Wyandotte.

The district is not considering using the building for adult education or GED classes, according to documents on the district’s website.

John Strange was originally constructed in 1977, although there’s been a school on the property since 1924.

The school district declined to provide RTV6 with someone to interview about the referendum until after the public vote Wednesday.

They have many buildings over fifty years old and many elementary buildings are overcrowded to the point of impacting the educational process, according to documents on the district’s website.

The district is looking to make a slew of improvements including renovating schools, upgrading fire alarms and security, replacing boilers, and creating additional learning spaces.

MSD Washington Township currently has 11,357 students and 1,639 staff members.

The district will hold a public hearing Wednesday June 8 at 7 pm at the H. Dean Evans Community and Education Center, 8550 Woodfield Crossing Blvd in Indianapolis.

By state law, after June 8 most school staff will be prohibited from promoting on school property or through the use of school resources the needs for the referendum, according to the district’s website, which directs people to another website that will be launched after June 8.

If the referendum does not pass, students will have to deal with increased class sizes, staff reductions, home value decline, overcrowding, security concerns and termination of certain programs, according to the district’s website.