IPS approves May referendum to seek nearly $1B in added tax dollars

Indianapolis Public Schools Board hears about the proposal to put a referendum on the May 2018 ballot that would allow for additional funding from taxes. (Photo Provided/Indianapolis Public Schools)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Public School voters on May 8 will decide whether to let the district raise nearly $1 billion in additional tax dollars over the next eight years for teacher raises, school building improvements and special education services.

The school board voted unanimously on Thursday night to put two referenda on the additional tax draw on the May primary ballot. Registered voters in the IPS district will cast ballots on the referenda.

The operating referenda, if approved, would raise $92 million annually for eight years to pay for teacher raises and special education services —  collecting $736 million for operating costs. More than half of that would go to paying teachers and attracting them, something some IPS principals said they struggle to do.

A capital referendum would generate $200 million to fund the district’s Safe and Equitable Schools Project, which calls for renovating and improving school facilities, making safety enhancements and upgrading classroom technology and equipment.

If both referenda are approved, the district estimates the total monthly tax impact to be $28.45 per month, or about $350 a year, for the owner of a $123,500 home — the median home value within the district. Individual tax impacts would depend on property.

Thursday’s decision came after a Tuesday public hearing as well as another public hearing in advance of Thursday’s vote at the IPS headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.