Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

January 24, 2014

Referendum could determine what sort of future Concord Community Schools has

Referendum to determine future of Concord Community Schools

DUNLAP — Most school corporations pursue special referendums in order to thrive. Concord Community Schools is doing it to survive.

Such was the idea behind a Jan. 13 vote by the Concord Board of School Trustees to approve putting what they called a general fund operating referendum on the ballot for the upcoming primary election in May.

According to Wayne Stubbs, superintendent of Concord Community Schools, the corporation over the past five years has faced a combined loss of $10 million to funds supported by local property taxes, with another $4.2 million in additional losses expected this year alone.

The reason: fallout from the 2008 constitutionally-instituted Indiana property tax caps which capped property taxes at 1 percent for residential properties, 2 percent for rental and agricultural properties and 3 percent for commercial properties.

“This is much different than what happened with the Goshen Community Schools referendum, where they were actually doing a building project,” Stubbs said from his office Monday afternoon. “We’re not looking to build or add on to any of our facilities. This is simply to try and get back or recover some of the massive losses that we incurred due to the tax caps.”

As reported by the Legislative Services Agency, Concord currently ranks 8th out of 292 school districts in Indiana for experiencing the highest property tax losses — losses due primarily to Concord’s unique location, which overlaps other taxing units such as the cities of Goshen and Elkhart.

According to Stubbs, the tax caps are applied to the overall tax rate, which includes cities, counties, townships, libraries and schools.

“Concord Community Schools includes all of those taxing units, with the added distinction of having both portions of the city of Elkhart and the city of Goshen as part of our tax base,” Stubbs said. “Concord’s assessed valuation also has a large percentage of homes which hit the property tax cap at 1 percent, which reduces the amount of funding we receive. Concord also has very little farm land or industrial property, so we lose out there too.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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