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Elkhart Community Schools referendum fails in unofficial count

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 8:58 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Tuesday, residents voted on a referendum to support Elkhart Community Schools.

At last check, the unofficial total results show 2,075 said “yes” and 3,766 said “no.”

Superintendent Dr. Steve Thalheimer said it is disappointing there was not more buy-in from the community.

“By the referendum not passing we will find ourselves in an immensely difficult position. I know there are teachers and staff right now who would have letters of resignation ready to go, that they will leave our district. And some of those will be impactful in places like our early college program and career tech courses and offerings there at the Career Center. That will make our job all the more difficult because it becomes this spiral of if we don’t have the programs that people want, more students choose not to come. That impacts our funding, which causes more cuts. We become one of those communities in decline,” he said.

Thalheimer said he appreciates those who took the time to understand the reasoning behind the referendum.

“That’s the thing that’s been most important to me through the whole time period over the last several weeks is the number of people who have called in and kind of inquired and wanted to know for themselves, and not buy into misinformation...most people at the end of it were like ‘okay, I understand where you are coming from,’” said Thalheimer.

He also hosted town halls to help educate people.

“But we have tried very much from the beginning to say this is our economic situation; this is how funding works for Indiana; these are the $18.2 million worth of cuts that we made over the last decade,” he said.

Nonetheless, teachers and community members have praised Thalheimer for his hard work and leadership.

Thalheimer said he will keep fighting for his staff and students.

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