A referendum is an opportunity for voters to support their local school corporation with additional property-tax revenue beyond what could be collected without a referendum.
There are two types of referendums:
- A capital referendum allows school districts to seek additional funding for building improvements.
- An operating referendum allows school districts to seek additional funding for teacher salaries, academic services, operational support, etc.
The only referendum IPS is seeking on the May 2023 ballot is a capital referendum in the amount of $410 million for facilities improvements. This is a $3 a month tax increase for the median homeowner.
(The IPS Board of School Commissioners decided in January to not move forward with the originally proposed operating referendum.)
The 2023 Capital Referendum will allow IPS to:
- Bring all IPS elementary and middle school buildings to “good” status within 8 years.
- A facilities study shows that currently more than 30% of IPS buildings are rated in “poor” condition. The referendum will allow us to make our school buildings better for students and staff.
- “Good” condition means that a building only needs routine maintenance.
- Give all middle school students access to practice fields and competition-level playing fields.
- Broad Ripple, Northwest, Arlington and Howe will have outstanding athletic facilities, comparable to other schools in the region.
- Address the most significant facilities needs alongside programmatic renovations.
- More than 20 schools are receiving an investment, including several Innovation partners.
- Ensure IPS students are learning in safe, warm and welcoming school buildings.
- HVAC systems for better heating, cooling and ventilation at schools.
- New windows
- New athletic and practice facilities
- New building additions to support new academic models (including STEM, Visual and Performing Arts, IB and more)
- New construction
Note: Some projects will also include safety and security upgrades through funds from the 2018 Capital Referendum. The district is in Phase II of this work.
When a school is in “good” condition it requires only routine maintenance. Building and site condition, including administrative and play-field spaces, are safe and free of major disrepair or structural issues. Educational spaces are suitable for student use and aligned to curricular or programmatic needs. Technological infrastructure is sufficient to support 1:1 device use and modern instructional needs. Cost for addressing any replacement of school facility or operation systems would not exceed 10% of the building value.
In addition to the improvements to our facilities, the capital referendum will result in the creation of an estimated 1,262 additional jobs created for construction projects. These jobs will positively impact individuals in our community who work in carpentry, painting, masonry, electrical and HVAC.
We are prioritizing local firms of all sizes (especially those owned by veterans, women, minorities and the physically challenged).
Yes, there are more than 20 elementary and middle schools across the district that will benefit from the 2023 Capital Referendum. The list of schools can be found on the capital referendum page at www.myips.org.
Note: Additional projects will occur and continue to occur at other buildings across the district.
No, the $3 a month is based on the median homeowner, and only homeowners within IPS boundaries. Community members can determine their exact tax rate by using our investment calculator on the 2023 Capital Referendum page at www.myips.org.
Yes, we’ve built in some assumptions around increased costs based on trends we’ve seen over the last few years. This is also why we don’t want to delay, because the same projects would likely cost us more to get completed later.
We can issue bonds over time and right now we anticipate releasing bonds in about $100 million increments for groups of projects to be completed over the next 8 years.
ESSER funding is not being utilized to support capital improvements related to Rebuilding Stronger implementation. However, ESSER funds are supporting successful transitions in staffing and programming. An example is professional development to prepare staff for the expansion of various academic programs, such as IB, Montessori, Reggio and STEM.
IPS presented a capital referendum question to voters in May 2018. Voters supported that referendum, which was for safety and security at IPS schools. Funds have successfully been used for enhanced exterior lighting, technology upgrades, hardened exteriors, classroom safety upgrades, and upgraded emergency communication systems. We’re in Phase 2 of improvements funded by the 2018 referendum.
We would likely need to reassess the long-range plan we have in place now to re-prioritize what projects need to happen and when. The district has more than $1.2 billion in deferred maintenance. The 2023 capital referendum (a $410M ask) would allow IPS to bring all elementary and middle schools to “good” condition, eliminating a large portion of our deferred maintenance and the cost.
IPS is still moving forward with the components of the referendum scheduled for the 2023–24 school year, including:
- Pre-K Movement
Moving seats from our Pre-K center (which will no longer be used for classroom instruction) and distributing them to other schools throughout the district. This ensures more seats are available to our youngest students in schools closer to where they live.
- School Mergers and Consolidations
We will continue with school mergers, and end classroom instruction at several schools, at the end of this academic year. These changes will allow us to give affected students a more robust student experience in new schools and, for some, in new program models.
Our Leadership Team is discussing the other components of the Rebuilding Stronger Plan — those scheduled for the 2024–25 school year and beyond — and the path forward. We’ll engage with the IPS Board and hope to provide clarity within the month.
We are still in conversations about the district’s needs that still have to be accommodated, as well as continuing to advocate at the Statehouse for additional flexibility.
The resolution passed by the IPS Board of School Commissioners cited several potential future uses for these buildings, and the district is currently completing an internal space needs assessment that will inform Rebuilding Stronger implementation and long-term facilities planning efforts.
The district and Board of School Commissioners are committed to transparent communication and decision-making about our buildings that will occur prior to the end of this school year.