Northeast Dubois Board Passes Resolution; Referendum Goes Before Voters In November
Dubois (NNDC) – The Northeast Dubois School Corporation board of trustees Tuesday night passed a resolution to place a property tax increase referrendum on this November’s ballot. School officials say if the voters in the district don’t approve the referendum this fall, the future of the Northeast Dubois School Corporation could be in real jeopardy.
Voters living in the corporation’s four townships will now approve whether or not to raise property taxes in order to keep the financially-strapped school district from having to cut sports programs, possibly closing a school such as Celestine, or worse.
Falling enrollment in recent years has meant less money for the school district.
Tuesday night’s board meeting drew a large crowd of more than 250 to the Northeast Dubois High School cafeteria; most of them in favor of the referrendum.
If passed, property taxes in the district would increase by 18 cents to 99 cents per $100 of assessed value. Even with the increase, the tax rate for those living in the Northeast Dubois school district would be the cheapest in the county.
Among those who spoke in favor or the referrendum was Celestine second-grader Matthew Messman.
Young Matthew said, “I may not be able to vote yet, but I do have a voice, and I would like to tell you what I think. I am proud to be a Jeep because we are like a family!” His comments drew a loud approval applause from the crowd.
Enrollment in the Northeast Dubois School Corporation fell from 899 for the 2014-15 school year to 879 for the current 2015-16 school year. The drop in enrollment just this past year meant about $108,000 in lost funding from the state.
Projections say the school district’s enrollment will drop to 835 by 2019-20, which would result in additional state funding losses of nearly $350,000 over the next five years!
School superintendent Bill Hochgesang, a 1983 graduate of Northeast Dubois High School, says without the additional money the referrendum will provide, the entire school corporation could be in jeopardy and having to merge with another school corporation in the county would be a strong possibility.
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