SELLERSBURG – It’s official: West Clark Community Schools will have its $95 million question on a fall ballot.
“Everything has been done," said Susan Popp, Clark County clerk. "We are looking at a special election.”
The district had until Aug. 1 to get approval from government entities, such as the Department of Local Government Finance and the county auditor.
The question will appear on the ballot as follows:
“Shall the West Clark Community Schools, Clark County, Indiana, issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the 2018 West Clark School Building Renewal/Restoration, Expansion and Safety Project which includes restoration, expansion and renovation work at approximately eight buildings and which is estimated to cost not more than $95,000,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by $0.7314 per $100 of assessed valuation?”
If passed, the referendum would affect property owners in Clark, Monroe, Silver Creek, Union and Wood townships, and therefore only registered voters in those townships will vote on it, according to Popp.
Absentee voting and early voting at the courthouse will be available, as with any election.
“I think this has been two and a half, three years in the making and we are thrilled to have this in the hands of our voters and the taxpayers," district Superintendent Chad Schenck said. "I am personally meeting [voters] and giving out factual information. We are proud of our board for having the meetings and reaching a consensus… we are looking forward to what the voters have to say."
School board secretary Doug Coffman sees a lot of voter outreach ahead.
“I feel great that we’ve got everything done in time, we were concerned making the decision to move forward late in the game," Coffman said. "The next one is going to be more difficult, selling the story and the vision. I think it’s going to be close.... We have to do a good job pulling people into our way of thinking. I’m optimistic, but it’s not going to be without a lot of challenges."
Fellow board member Brian Guernsey — the lone person to vote against seeking a referendum — thinks it'll be a hard-sell.
"I think it’ll have a hard time passing… as far as the tax rate. A lot of people won't want their taxes raised that much. Its going to be a hard sale to the taxpayers,” Guernsey said.
Brian Hurst, vice president of the school board, knows there's a lot of work to do between now and election day.
“I think it’s an uphill battle. I think it'll be tough due to the makeup of our school district and things the school district has been through in the past. Not saying it can't be done. Other than that, I can’t predict the future,” said vice president of the board Brian Hurst.
If the referendum passes, the funds would be used to make major renovations to all district facilities and for building additions at the Silver Creek campus.