SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- Supporters of West Clark Community Schools' $95 million referendum are disappointed after 70 percent of voters rejected the plan at the polls Tuesday night.
The district is trying to figure out a new way to pay for school renovations, but one said confusion about wording on the ballot kept her from supporting the plan.
"I'm not surprised that it was voted down," said Sarah Spicer, who has six children in the district. "People were not hearing the realities."
The ballot question said the project could increase the property tax rate for debt service by 73 cents per $100 of assessed value. West Clark Superintendent Chad Schenck said the plan called for a 24 cent rate increase, but Indiana law required the ballot to be written differently.
"The deck is stacked against school board corporations in Indiana, and that is because of legislation that exists for referendum ballot questioning," he said.
Starting next year, the school can take out $5 million bonds without taxpayer approval. But Schenck said bonds of that size won't make much of an impact at schools in need of major renovations and repairs.
"$5 million will not begin to touch all of the needs just at Silver Creek High School, let alone the other buildings across the district," he said.
The school could also gather signatures from taxpayers to take out larger bonds, but anything over $15 million would be subject to a referendum. With enough support, that could come as soon November 2018.
"The statute says you have to wait two years, but there's a clause if you can get 550 signatures from your taxpayers, they can petition to only wait one year," Schenck said.
Despite the district's disappointment, it's back to the drawing board. On Thursday, the school board will discuss options to determine the best plan for the future.
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