IPS employees discuss proposed nearly $1 billion tax hike

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Earlier this month Indianapolis Public Schools introduced a proposal for a near billion dollar property tax increase over eight years. Tuesday, the district explained why it needs this money.

This tax hike would be on the May ballot as a referendum.

It’s separated in two parts, including $736 million going to what they call operating costs. More than half of that would go to paying teachers and attracting them, something some IPS principals said they struggle to do.  

“I recruited a teacher out of Denver this summer…and she got here and was stolen away the day she arrived by a township school that could offer her much more in benefits and pay,” said Christine Collier, the principal at CFI School 70.  

That money would also go to fund academic programs, including those for students with special needs.

“Special education is hard. It takes a lot of manpower and I know it’s really expensive,” said Cate King, a special education teacher at IPS. “If IPS wants to be a competitor with surrounding school districts, especially in the realm of special education. We need to support this referendum.”

The other $200 million would go to what are called capital improvements. About half would go to construction and renovation. Some would also go to security improvements.

Mark Nardo is the principal from George Washington Carver School 87. He said while he feels safe, there isn’t a secure lobby area before entering the school itself.

“When an individual enters our school building, they are immediately within feet of classrooms, preschool-age children and IPS staff,” Nardo said.

IPS explained how its funding from the federal and state governments is down $25 million from 2010.

But how much would this proposal cost you? It depends how much your home is worth. IPS released the following estimates:

  • For a home valued at $50,000, it would cost $59 per year.
  • For a home valued at $100,000, it would cost around $193 a year.
  • For a home valued at $123,500, which is the median home value in the IPS school district, it would cost $283.35 a year.
  • For a $150,000 home, it would cost around $380 a year.
  • For a home valued at $250,000, it would cost around $768 a year.
  • For a $500,000 home, it would cost around $1,700 a year.
  • For a $1,000,000 home, it would cost around $3,800 a year.

IPS said a lot is at stake if nothing happens. Costs for renovations could increase; transportation services could be reduced, along with fewer educational programs.

But while a crowd showed up for the meeting, no parents asked any questions about the proposal.

On Thursday, there’s another meeting at the IPS headquarters at 120 E. Walnut St. in Indianapolis.

There will be public comment and then the board of commissioners will vote whether this referendum will appear on the ballot in May.