School safety referendum for New Albany Floyd County Schools signs

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Floyd County voters will choose candidates for government offices in the primary election June 2, but they also will weigh whether to pay more in property taxes to fund school safety.

The New Albany Floyd County Schools safety referendum proposes up to an 8.5-cent increase per every $100 of assessed property value. The property tax increase would fund up to $3 million each year for the school district over the next eight years. To see how much your property taxes would increase, click here for a calculator provided through the district. 

School officials said that the safety referendum, if passed, would provide money to hire more school resource officers, improve security at older schools, add more security features to school buses and provide additional mental health therapists.

Misty Ronau, chairwoman of the Safety for Our Schools Floyd County PAC, said she believes this funding could save lives.

"Absolutely, without a doubt," she said.

However, Carol Lamb, president of Grassroots Concerned Citizens, which opposes the tax hike, said she will vote "no."

"Floyd County I think has a great school system but it's costing the property owners too much in taxes to sustain what they're trying to do," she said. 

Lamb said her children and grandchildren have gone through the school system, and she doesn't mind paying for more school resource officers or security features within a building, but she opposes funds for additional mental health resources.

"To me that has to be the parents that provide that for their kids. It's not the school's place," she said.

Ronau disagrees and told WDRB that mental health services are critical in preventing violence and helping kids succeed. 

"Our schools are asking for our help. This is our chance to help," she said. "We know school violence in general is far reaching and it looks like such a vast array of things."

Superintendent Brad Snyder said, "Society and kids have changed and the issues that come to school are real."

The deadline to request an absentee ballot has ended, but people can still vote in person.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said 391,000 absentee ballots had been received as of May 19. She said counties are preparing for an influx of absentee ballots due to COVID-19 concerns.

Snyder said the timing for this issue isn't great because of these changes due to COVID-19, but he hopes people will look at this in the long-term. 

"It's certainly more challenging when we can't canvas and we can't door knock and we can't door knock," he said.

In Floyd County, early voting is taking place at New Albany High School, Floyd County High School, and at Prosser Career Education Center. On election day, those locations will be open as well as Georgetown Elementary, Floyd Knobs Elementary and Scribner Middle schools.

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