May 7, 2024 - News

Charter school referendum sharing on ballot in Pike Township

School bus with money

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Pike Township voters have an extra question on their ballot Tuesday — whether to increase property taxes for local schools.

Why it matters: Should it pass, this would be the first time in the state that charter schools get a share of property tax referendum proceeds.

The big picture: If passed, Pike's property tax rate would increase up to $0.24 per $100 assessed value for eight years — about $220 a year for a $200,000 home.

  • A 2023 state law requires the district to give eligible charter schools a per-student share of the funds for each student enrolled in the charter and who lives in Pike Township.
  • Historically, charter schools have received a per-pupil grant from the state in lieu of the property taxes that traditional public schools receive, but school choice advocates have lobbied for more sharing of property taxes.
  • The referendum sharing was considered a big win for the charters, which are publicly funded but don't have elected boards governing them the way most traditional districts do.

By the numbers: The district estimates the referendum would generate $14.5 million annually, which would go toward teacher pay, professional development and digital devices, among other things.

  • WFYI reports 15 charter schools — including IN Math & Science, the Herron network, Paramount schools and Purdue Polytechnic high schools — may be eligible to receive referendum proceeds.
  • They'd collectively receive an estimated $412,000 annually.

Zoom out: Three other school districts statewide have referendums on the ballot Tuesday.

  • Fremont Community Schools (Steuben County) is seeking nearly $2.5 million for teacher pay, academic programming and operating costs.
  • Brown County Schools wants nearly $2 million annually for teacher pay and other expenses.
  • Blue River Valley School Corporation (Henry County) is asking for about $350,000 annually for teacher pay.
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