Elkhart Schools referendum fails

NOW: Elkhart Schools referendum fails

ELKHART, Ind.--- A $120 million referendum for Elkhart Community Schools failed on Tuesday. Unofficial results show 3,766 people voted against the measure while only 2,075 voted for it. 

"We’ve ended up with our community telling us, ironically on Teacher Appreciation Day, that our teachers and our staff are not worthy of the pay increase to where we can get them to be competitive with other districts," said Dr. Steve Thalheimer, Superintendent of Elkhart Community Schools. 

The referendum would have raised property taxes by an average of $119 per homeowner. That money would have been used for teacher pay increases, out of pocket costs for health insurance, and student transportation.

"We’re already $3,300 behind other school districts," said Thalheimer. "The new state dollars well allow us to get closer to where other districts are but those districts are going to be able to take their new districts and go to a higher position." 

A new referendum can not be voted on for another two years. Thalheimer says, in the meantime, the district will have to make some tough decisions.

"We have to evaluate how we’re going to be busing students, what that means for walk zones for students, and what that means for field trips or how we’re going to be able to do educationally related activities," said Thalheimer. "We’re to the point where it’s critical and now obviously without the transportation piece that’s going to reduce our ability to do field trips, it means we’re going to lose drivers." 

The results of the election will become official in 10 days. 

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