For Culver Community Schools to maintain our status as a school district that performs at a level of excellence, we must have the funds necessary to support our students, maintain acceptable class sizes and remain competitive so that our outstanding classroom teachers are not recruited away for other area districts. Providing the referendum funding allows Culver Community schools to attract and retain teachers. Equally import it also allows our schools to keep and enhance music, art, FFA and extra‐curricular programs.



Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is an operating referendum, who receives the money and who is allowed to vote for it?

  2. What is the exact referendum language on the ballot?

  3. Who pays the referendum tax?

  4. What happens if the referendum fails?

  5. How are cuts in teaching staff made?

  6. Explain the state funding formula and how changes are made.

  7. Why can't the school district use construction money to pay for teacher salaries?

  8. Why can’t the school advocate for the referendum?

  9. Would consolidation of Culver Community Schools with a neighboring school district create a savings that would avoid a referendum?

  10. Have other school districts in Indiana used a referendum to supplement funding shortages?


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1. What is an operating referendum, who receives the money and who is allowed to vote for it?


A school corporation may conduct a referendum to create a property tax levy for purposes of supplementing the revenue it receives from the state funding formula. The Culver Community Schools Corporation (CCSC) Board of Trustees passed a resolution that states that the proposed referendum would be used to supplement existing revenues received from the state of Indiana for the purpose of funding academic and educationally‐related programs, increasing student opportunities and student safety, managing class sizes, and attracting and retaining teachers.

An operating referendum creates an additional levy that goes into a special fund titled "referendum fund" for a period not to exceed eight years. However, a referendum tax rate may be re-imposed or extended under the law if approved by the voters of the district.

The revenue is collected by the county through the property tax bills of property taxpayers in the school district. The money does not pass through the state, but goes directly to the school for the purposes of supplementing the general fund of the school corporation. The general fund pays for faculty and staff.

The referendum is only on the ballot of voters registered to vote in the CCSC district. A referendum tax levy will take effect only if a majority of the voters vote "Yes" to the ballot question. If it passes, the referendum levy goes into effect the following calendar year. The referendum question will appear on the November ballot in the 2018 general election.


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2. What is the exact referendum language on the ballot?


The referendum ballot language is established by Indiana law, approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance and reads:

“For the eight (8) calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall the Culver Community Schools impose a property tax rate that does not exceed seventeen cents ($0.17) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purpose of funding academic and educationally‐related programs, increasing student opportunities and student safety, managing class sizes, and attracting and retaining teachers? "


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3. Who pays the referendum tax?


Only those who pay property tax in the CCSC district will pay the referendum tax. Commercial rental property owners may choose to pass the tax on to their tenants. Senior citizens, homeowners, mortgage holders and some other types of taxpayers receive exemptions that lower their assessed value and lessen the impact of the tax rate compared to others. By law, the rate is applied to the net assessed value of the property after these deductions. The law does not allow certain classes of taxpayers to be exempt from the rate. For instance, charging only property taxpayers with children in the schools would be considered tuition and against the law established by the Indiana Constitution that says education is tuition free and available to all.


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4. What happens if the referendum fails?


If a majority of the voters voting on the operating referendum vote in opposition, CCSC will not have the funding necessary for Culver Community Schools to retain teachers, and to keep and enhance music, art, and extra‐curricular programs. Support staff and teacher salaries in Culver Community Schools need to be competitive with nearby schools and local employment opportunities. Winamac, Argos, and Plymouth offer higher teacher salaries and benefits. Another public question on the same or substantially similar referendum may not be submitted to the voters earlier than two years after the date of the election without a petition of voters to allow it in one year. The earliest the referendum could be presented would be the November 2019 election. CCSC would not be able to receive the critical referendum funding beginning in January 2019.


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5. How are cuts in teaching staff made?


When cutbacks occur in staffing due to funding shortfalls, the term RIF is used. This refers to Reduction-in-Force which is based on seniority and certification. Certification is making sure teachers are certified to teach the classes and programs that will be offered the next year. For instance, if the music programs were going to be reduced, a music teacher who is not certified to teach other subjects might be more at risk of being cut. Generally, less senior teachers are reduced before a more senior teacher. Exceptions to this may be made because of certification.

Reductions are based on the budget, enrollment, the schedule of classes, and rules from the Indiana Department of Education. The number of staff reductions can be potentially reduced by retirements. Teachers who are eligible for retirement have already received their early retirement compensation as the result of a previous retirement buyout.

If the referendum is renewed no reductions in work force will be necessary. If the referendum fails, reductions in force will result in larger class sizes which, in turn make it more difficult for students to receive the individual attention they need.

Reductions are based on the budget, enrollment, the schedule of classes, and rules from the Indiana Department of Education. The number of staff reductions can be potentially reduced by retirements. Teachers who are eligible for retirement have already received their early retirement compensation as the result of a previous retirement buyout.

If the referendum is renewed no reductions in work force will be necessary. If the referendum fails, reductions in force will result in larger class sizes which, in turn make it more difficult for students to receive the individual attention they need.


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6. Explain the state funding formula and how changes are made.


The state distributes money from revenue it collects in income tax, sales tax, gaming revenues, etc. to the almost 400 Indiana school corporations, virtual schools and charter school associations based on a funding formula the state legislature creates and passes bi-annually as part of the state budget process.

All funding issues begin with the 100 legislators in the Indiana House. The state funding formula provides about 97% of the revenue in CCSC’s General Fund. About 90% of this fund pays for teachers and staff of the corporation and the inter-local agreement for students with special needs. The funding formula begins with a per pupil "foundation" or base amount.

Added to the foundation amount is a calculation of a "complexity index" for the education of "at-risk" children. In the past, the complexity index has used census data or free and reduced lunch eligibility to help determine the needs of a community. Now the index uses the percentage of students eligible for welfare services or in foster care in the school system. About 57 percent of the Culver students are included in the complexity index. The state average is about 60%.

The 2008 Property Tax Reform legislation and the continuing funding decline against inflation since, has now made the inequities in the funding formula a serious funding crisis by making state funding based on the General Assembly’s formula the only source of funding to pay for classroom instruction. Changes to the foundation amount, adding an index for academic results and some other tweaks to the formula are all possible, but will most likely be gradual changes over the next several years if at all.

For more information on school funding in the state of Indiana, check this article “The basics of school funding in Indiana: Difficulty defining fairness” from the education news site Chalkbeat.


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7. Why can't the school district use construction money to pay for teacher salaries?


By state law, school districts can't use other school funds (Debt Service, Transportation, Capital Projects Funds) to pay General Fund expenses such as salaries. For example, money used to build buildings cannot be used for teacher salaries and instructional supplies. These laws also limit creative funding reduction ideas like four day school weeks, cutting transportation to save teachers, changes in food service, charging parents tuition and more.

No teaching positions have been lost because of past or current building projects. Facilities in the schools are shared “rent free" with the whole district, including the summer lunch program, Blessing in a Backpack, Boys and Girls Club, and other non‐profit organizations.


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8. Why can’t the school advocate for the referendum?


Indiana law does not allow school corporations to advocate for a referendum once it has been placed on the ballot by the School Board. Information and communication about the referendum from that point must come from a source independent of the school corporation, such as a group driven by community members.

In addition, school employees with a few exceptions (e.g. superintendent and business manager) cannot advocate for the referendum during regular school hours “while they are on the clock”; however, before and after school, CCSC staff members are like anyone else and can advocate for the referendum. ​


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9. Would consolidation of Culver Community Schools with a neighboring school district create a savings that would avoid a referendum?


The short answer is “no” and that consolidation would actually cost taxpayers in the CCSC district more than the proposed referendum. Two factors make consolidation an undesirable solution. The first is any savings would be in the central administrative support of consolidating two contiguous districts. However, CCSC administrative cost are already the lowest in the area. The savings would be very minimal and transportation costs would increase.

The other major factor is the existing CCSD low tax rate. Culver Community Schools has the lowest tax rate in the entire State of Indiana. The tax rates for surrounding school districts range from a a low of $0.7524 to a high of $1.1857. The CCSD tax rate is just $0.4476. Not only is that the lowest in the state, but it is 20% lower than the second lowest. If consolidation occurs, the current CCSD taxpayers would be responsible for the new rate of the district they are consolidating with, but also the current debt of CCSD. While the new rate would lower the tax rate for the other school district, It would raise the taxes considerably for everyone in the CCSD district.


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10. Have other school districts in Indiana used a referendum to supplement funding shortages?


Since the passage of Public Law 146 in 2008, when the Indiana General Assembly established referenda for school construction and General Fund levies as a mechanism of school funding, there have been 103 operating fund referendum. This November there will be an additional nine on the ballot. There have also been 72 Construction Project Referendum on the ballot since 2008. This November there will be three more. One district in Lake County has both an operating fund referendum and a construction referendum on the ballot this fall.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jennifer McCormick said this last spring school referendums will become a way of life for most districts across the state. "If the school district is not getting enough money through the state's basic tuition support to give teachers the raises they deserve or to keep programs alive, that's the trigger to say we need more money," she said.  (Source: NWI Times)

This fall voters will be deciding on operating referendum asking for tax rates as high as $1.0028. The highest rate ever requested previously was $0.75. Here are the referendum on the ballot this fall:


*Lake Ridge School Corp has a second referendum for a construction project for a combined rate of the two referendum of $2.1220

 


 








Impact

In a November 6th mid-term general election, voters located within the boundary of the Culver Community Schools will see on their ballot a referendum question asking them if they support an increase in property taxes to fund operational expenses for the purpose of funding academic and educationally related programs, to manage class sizes and to retain teachers. 
 
The language of the question as required by Indiana Code and approved by the Dept. of Local Govt. Finance is:
 
Operating Referendum
"For the eight (8) calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall the Culver Community Schools Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed seventeen cents ($0.17) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other property taxes imposed by the school corporation for the purpose of funding academic and educationally-related programs, increasing student opportunities and student safety, managing class sizes, and attracting and retaining teachers?” 

By voting “yes“ on the ballot, the tax impact to the households in our district is minimal, but the impact on our schools is significant. A homestead valued at $85,000 will see a modest $39.10 increase per year. The median home value in Culver Community Schools district is $118,800. Those homeowners can approximate a $76.45 increase per year or just $6.37 per month.

Referendum Calculator 
The impact of the referendums are determined by this formula:
(Gross Assessed Value)-(Deductions)➗100 X (Operating Referendum Rate)

Step 1. Determine your Gross Assessed Value (GAV)
Find the GAV for your property by going to this link for Indiana Assessed Property Values  Using the most recent assessment year, search for a property and locate the link titled ‘Details’. Find the value labeled "Assessed Value Total Land and Improvements". This value will be highlighted in yellow and is the number to enter into the calculator.


A. Use the drop down box to “Select a county” (see image)
B. From the drop down box “Select a referendum” choose Culver Community School Corporation
C. Enter the Gross Assessed Value number from Step 1 into the box with no commas or dollar sign
D. From the drop down box “Select a property type” choose the correct property type. Be sure and select “Homestead” for owner-occupied homes to automatically apply the proper homestead deductions.
E. Select additional deductions the property receives. The majority of properties check mortgage deduction.


Step 3. Estimate Impact
After you click the “Estimate Impact” the Estimated Referendum Impact box will appear. The referendum is the maximum rate the school can use. The school board has indicated they will only take what is needed from that rate each year to supplement the funding reductions by the State. The first line shows this maximum annual amount due as a result of the referendum. The second line is required by the legislature and shows what the total of the yearly tax bill would be if the maximum amount was collected every year for eight years. This assumes your assessed value and deductions are the same for the next eight years. No other government entity tax rate is required to show what your tax bill would be over eight years! The only impact to your taxes that can accurately be measured is for next year. Line 4 shows the “Assessed Value” of your property after deductions have been applied.










Where to Vote

The election is officially November 6, 2018. Early voting allows voters to cast their ballot for 28 days before the election.

Early voting begins on October 10, 2018 and ends at noon on November 5, 2018 at the locations approved by the Board of Elections in the four counties served by Culver Community Schools. You may be interested in voting early at one of the several early voting locations in the school district.

Marshall County Early Voting:

You can vote early at the Marshall County Clerk’s Office at 211 W Madison, Plymouth. They are open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Culver Town Hall will be open for voting on Saturday, October 27th and November 3rd from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Other locations and additional Saturday hours are also available at this link. (embed http://www.co.marshall.in.us/files/election/pollsites.pdf)

Starke County Early Voting:

You can vote early at the Starke County Courthouse at 53 E Washington St., Knox. They are open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, but are closed for one hour at noon. Culver Town Hall will be open for voting on Saturday, October 27th and November 3rd the same times. More information is available at this link. (embed  http://www.co.starke.in.us/index.php/circuit-court/election/)

Fulton County Early Voting:  

You can vote early at the Fulton County Courthouse, 3rd Floor Auxiliary Courtroom. They are open weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, but are closed for one hour at noon. Other locations and additional Saturday hours are also available at this link  (embed https://www.co.fulton.in.us/topic/index.php?topicid=92&structureid=37)

Pulaski County Early Voting:

You can vote early at the Justice Center at 110 E Meridian, Winamac. They are open weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, but are closed for thirty minutes at 1:00 pm. Other locations and additional Saturday hours are also available. You can get additional information by calling the Clerk’s office at (574) 946-3313

Early voting ends at noon on Monday, November 5, 2018 at ALL locations.

Absentee ballots may be requested anytime before the election up until 8 days before the election. (11:59pm, October 29, 2018) They must be received by Monday, November 5th at noon.

Election day voting will take place at polling places and vote center located within and in some cases outside the school district. The polling locations open at 6:00 am and close at 6:00 pm. A voter in line at 6:00 pm will be allowed to vote. Registered voters are required to bring a government issued picture ID.

Only the voters registered to vote in the Culver Community School district will be voting on the referendum. Voters must live in the school district boundary, which are the four townships: 

Union Township in Marshall County

North Bend Township in Starke County

Aubeenaubbee Township in Fulton County

Tippecanoe Township in Pulaski County

The referendum tax levy will only take effect if a majority of the voters from the school district that vote on the referendum ballot question vote "Yes" to the ballot question. If it passes, the referendum levy goes into effect the following calendar year and would be in effect for eight years.



 

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