Projects paid by referendum OK’d by FWCS

February 26, 2019

Fort Wayne Community Schools’ elected leaders Monday approved contracts supported by referendum dollars as they awaited word from the Statehouse about proposed legislation that would place limits on such ballot measures.

The bill did not come to a vote Monday and won’t be considered this session.

District officials had urged local lawmakers to oppose Senate Bill 246, legislation that sought to prohibit voter referendums in primary and special elections, Steve Corona, school board vice president, said before the business meeting began.

The nearly 30,000-student district continues to spend funds generated from referendums passed in the 2012 and 2016 primary elections.

Referendums can help school districts fund major facilities projects, such as new construction and renovations. Property taxes approved by voters through referendums are not subject to property tax caps.

Monday, the board unanimously approved four construction contracts totaling nearly $2.4 million for miscellaneous site and traffic improvements, roof upgrades, general building system replacements and flooring work at multiple buildings.

The work, which is expected to finish by the start of next academic year, will be funded by referendum dollars and the operations fund.

Board member Glenna Jehl asked Darren Hess, the facilities director, how much money is left from the 2012 referendum.

“It’s almost drawn down,” Hess replied.

After the board finished its business, Corona announced he received an update from the Indiana School Boards Association: Senate Bill 246 was dead.

In other business, the board approved emergency projects caused by the dangerously cold January weather, which saw temperatures plummet below zero. Seventeen buildings required repairs totaling $43,752.

Julie Hyndman of the Fort Wayne Educators Association spoke during public comment, encouraging participation in the March 9 Red for Ed Rally at the Statehouse.

“Bring your kids, bring your dogs, bring anyone with you,” Hyndman said, noting attendees should wear red. “We want to show our legislators that we’re serious and we do care about public education in the state of Indiana and the success of our students.”

To register or for additional information, go to InvestInEducationIN.org. Parents should also contact their PTA about possible transportation, she said.