IPS to seek voters’ approval for $1 billion tax increase over 8 years

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public Schools is looking for a nearly $1 billion tax increase over eight years to give teachers raises and to improve facilities, among other changes.

It would be a referendum on the ballot on Election Day, May 8.

IPS shook things up this year when they announced school closures due to decreasing enrollment.

The district called the proposed tax increases “an investment in Indianapolis’ future.”

It is an expensive investment. IPS wants $92 million every year for eight years to give teachers a raise and to expand academic programs and services for kids with special needs.

The district also wants $200 million for renovations and safety improvements at the schools.

In all, it would be $936 million over those eight years.

The average property tax increase would be nearly $350 on a $123,000 home, which is the median value for an IPS family.

While expensive, parents said they could get behind this proposal.

“A stronger IPS school system makes Indianapolis a better city,” said Alex Janeczek, a parent of an IPS student.

“If it gives a child a better education, then sure,” added Karen Huffman, who has a granddaughter in IPS.

“I think it’s hard to work within the constraints of a really tight budget, not that we have to throw money indiscriminately, but we do need to make sure this is a priority to educate our children,” said Chloe Moushey, also an IPS parent.

The last time IPS had a tax increase was 10 years ago, and the district said it needs more funding to compete with surrounding districts to keep teachers.

Without this money, IPS said, it could delay building repairs, reduce transportation services and freeze teacher pay.

“My father was a teacher. I have been very, very positively affected by teachers. If we’re expecting them to have a very high level of education, they’re coming out with student debt, we need to allow them to at least make a living with what they’re doing,” Moushey said.

The referendum in May would need to be a majority vote for the tax increase to take effect.

It remains unclear whether the two tax proposals will be separate on the ballot.

There will be two public hearings at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 and 14 at 120 E. Walnut St. in Indianapolis, the John Morton-Finney Center for Educational Services.