“We asked our community for help, and with all the misinformation, confusion, and distortion, they just were not ready. Results are in, an d we lost 57-43.”
This is how the ‘Friends of Michigan City Schools’ facebook page broke the news of the results of the tax referendum on Tuesday, November 5. Over the past few months, one of the big issues in Michigan City has been the tax referendum.
This referendum would have raised taxes seventeen cents for every one hundred dollars to help fund Michigan City Area Schools. Only those who pay property tax in the Michigan City Area chools district would have had to pay the referendum tax. Some people in the community such as senior citizens, homeowners, and other types of tax payers would have received exemptions on their property taxes, which would have lessened the impact of tax rates. MCAS is already running on a tight budget while staff sizes are decreasing and class sizes are increasing. According to SchoolsWorthSaving the current financial crisis left teaching positions unfilled, compromised services, and has resulted in early deficits funded by reserves and interest in paying bonds creating a situation that cannot continue.
Since 2012, more than one hundred teaching, administrative and non-teaching jobs have been eliminated. As General Fund revenues decrease, the number of teachers and staff are reduced. Unless additional revenue is available to supplement declining state revenue, MCAS will continue to be forced to educate more students with fewer teachers. Student’s extracurricular activities provide the most significant benefit for the least amount of money. Students learn critical life skills from these activities which only cost pennies for every dollar. Despite MCAS already utilizing sponsors, participation fees, fundraisers, and volunteer ticket sales for these activities, staff salaries are covered by the general fund, which will face a major deficit in the coming year.
Superintendent of schools Dr. Easton Watkins became emotional when she alluded to the tough decisions that are going to be made in the future. Although it is too early to be specific, Dr. Watkins said, “Certainly everything is on the table.
Dr. Watkins said, “Hold your heads up high tomorrow and in your community. It is not about me or you or our salaries, it is about the kids in our community.”
Ms. Cipares, one of the volunteers heavily involved in the campaigning and also a former teacher at MCHS said, “I am so disappointed that our community decided not to support education and our future. When it came down to it we lost because the people were misinformed.”
Universally, the campaigners agreed that one of the main reasons the referendum did not pass was because many of those who did vote were misinformed.
LaPorte County Farm Bureau Insurance sent out a postcard opposing the tax referendum. This angered many members of the community as they found it to be unethical.
The results of the referendum cannot be reversed, so it is time for MCAS to buckle down and prepare for some big changes ahead.