Eminence voters approve tax increase to save school

(WISH Photo)

MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – A Hoosier community voted to save its school with support from an overwhelming number of voters on Tuesday.

Eminence Community School is an unincorporated community that sits in Morgan County.  Students are bussed in throughout a 62-square mile radius and that trip would have been much longer if it hadn’t been for voters’ support.

Officials said 87 percent of voters in Eminence agreed to an increase of no more than 40 cents for every $100 of value on their properties. Had they not approved the hike, they would’ve lost a cornerstone of their community.

“Eminence Schools are the heart of community” is a common phrase you’ll hear from people describing their district.  And they were just a school year away from having to shut down.

“I promised them we’re going to do everything possible to save the school and we did,” Terry Terhune, Eminence School Superintendent, said.

Terhune took over as superintendent last July after 18 years inside Eminence Community School.

“I knew in July that we had some financial issues,” said Terhune.

The first thing you see as you pull into Eminence is a message on the school sign thanking voters for keeping the schools’ door open.

Eminence School services students throughout Adams and Ashland Townships. If Tuesday’s referendum hadn’t passed, that year would have been spent working with neighboring districts on a consolidation plan, which would have required bussing students about 15 extra miles to school.

“They have to travel enough the way it is,” said Harve Wilson, who voted ‘yes’ to the referendum.

On Wednesday, students took to the playground and neighbors who have fond memories in Eminence hallways breathed a sigh of relief.

“Well, I went to school here, my grandpa went to school here,” said neighbor Brett Messer.

Terhune said everyone can now rest easy due to voters’ overwhelming approval of the referendum.

“That’s unprecedented for a referendum in Indiana. That number is really high,” said Terhune.

The referendum is good for seven years.

Terhune said the average community household will pay about $60 extra in property taxes next year.  Terhune hopes to have finances straightened out by then. He said as the district will remain open and communicate honestly about what their needs are.

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