Elkhart, Concord Schools referenda approved by voters

ELKHART COUNTY Elkhart County voters approved two referenda that will help provide additional funding to Elkhart Community Schools.

Both referenda passed with large margins, which means the district can move forward with plans to eliminate two-mile walk zones and make much needed safety and facility improvements.

Voters said yes to the school levy, which will increase property taxes for seven years to fund transportation and operating costs.

Voters also said yes to fund construction, increasing property taxes for the next 20 years.

Doctor Rob Haworth, superintendent of Elkhart Community Schools, gave a big sigh of relief as results came in.

"'Thank you.' That's my message," Haworth exclaimed. "Thank you, and on behalf of our students, thank you. We will do exactly what we said we were going to do. We're going to address those transportation issues. There won't be a student riding a bus for more than an hour."

According to school officials, taxpayers will see an increased rate of roughly 18 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The school levy ballot item is for $4,000,000 to help fill the gap in lost funds for debt services, capital projects such as maintenance and technology, transportation, bus replacement and walk zones.

The construction project referendum would fund $19,030,000 in maintenance needs, according to Yes4Elkhart.

Neither referenda included repair or replacement of the decades old swimming pools. Once it became apparent that voters might not support the referenda if the pools were included, school officials removed that from consideration.

Vote totals for the Concord School referendum were initially too close to call after a memory card was left in one of the voting machines.

After a poll worker retrieved the card and entered the data, authorities were able to definitively announce that voters passed the referendum.

Concord Schools' referendum is for a seven-year stint, primarily to regain the losses from the tax cap law.

According to Concord Superintendent Wayne Stubbs, the additional revenue would go towards things like transportation, bus replacement, capital projects and bet service funds.

"Actual revenues we won't see for a year, but we'll be able to, for next year, be able to again start replacing staff, dealing with some of our technology upgrades that are way behind where they need to be at this point, and continue to look at how we can address transportation needs as well," Stubbs explained.

The “yes” vote for Concord’s referendum translates to roughly 40 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

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