Gary Votes ‘Yes’ for $71M Schools Referendum
The Gary Community School Corp.’s $71.2 million referendum will soon become a reality thanks to the 60% of Gary residents who voted in favor of the referendum. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the results are expected to expedite a return to local control and provide raises to teachers.
The referendum is expected to bring about $8.9 million annually to the financially-strapped district over the next eight years. The Times reports district leaders have promised to allocate the first $1 million to teacher raises.
“I’m so thankful to Gary voters for supporting more opportunities for our students and overdue raises for our teachers,” Gary Schools Manager Paige McNulty said in a news release. “Passing this referendum puts us on the fastest track to ending state control of our schools, and I couldn’t be happier for the entire community.”
The results were reported Wednesday by the Lake County Board of Elections with 96% of county precincts reported. According to the publication, unofficial results provided by the county election board show 13,828 Gary residents voted yes in the referendum and 9,112 voted no.
The funding will also help the district balance a $6 million deficit and is a step towards ending state intervention. Under Indiana law, the district is required to resolve the deficit and show balanced budgets for two years in order to resolve its distressed unit status.
“Now that this referendum has passed, I would hope that they would provide what they say they will provide in a timely manner,” said Advisory Board President Robert Buggs. “If it accomplishes what it intended to do, I’m proud for the parents and the students. If not, I’m sad for the senior citizens who could lose their home because of this tax because they’re locked in for eight years.”
The Times reports Gary school leaders are planning to create a referendum oversight committee to report on how referendum funds are collected and spent.