Referendum to go on November ballot


Local voters must decide whether to vote yes or no for the referendum on the upcoming ballot.

November 8 is election day and a referendum is included on this year’s ballot.

A referendum is a way to increase the school’s property tax by putting a funding question on the ballot in an election to ask the taxpayers within the school district to increase their tax rate, therefore increasing their portion of property tax. 

Delphi Community School Corporation has two major sources of funding: state funding and property tax. The state funding goes into the “education” fund. The education fund can only be used to support the educational needs of students such as teacher pay, instructional assistant pay, and educational supplies. The state funding revenue is based on a complexity formula. Some variables that play into this are the types of diplomas the school offers and the Career Technology Education (CTE) courses. This funding is not consistent across the state of Indiana. Delphi Community School Corporation (DCSC) is below the state average for the state funding they receive. The state funding that DSCS receives is dependent on the number of students that attend our school corporation; as a result, DSCS can’t just “ask for more funding” from the state. 

The other type of funding that schools receive is property tax. The property tax goes into the operational fund. This revenue pays for the daily operations of the school district. Everything from computers to electricity to the water to the buses is paid from the operational fund. 

You cannot mix the spending between the two types of funding. The educational fund is truly everything in the classroom from the teacher and their benefits to the supplies. The operational fund is for the daily operation and maintenance of the school corporation. A maximum of 15% can be transferred to the operational fund from the educational fund to pay for important things like bus drivers and custodians.  

Besides the educational and operational fund, school corporations have a debt service fund. Debt service is funded through property taxes. Debt service is similar to a home mortgage. Most people do not have enough money to buy an entire house, so they borrow money. School corporations have a fixed amount of money based on the state funding and local property taxes, and thus cannot afford to upgrade or improve facilities. Therefore schools must get bonds or loans to ensure the school is functioning properly. For example, the construction over the summer that replaced pipes and upgraded the HVAC for the middle school and high school was paid for through a bond. Just like a house mortgage, the bond must be repaid over time. The money to repay all loans is in the debt service fund. School districts must first pay their loans so property taxes collected must first be paid into debt service to cover the cost of the annual loan repayment. The other portion of property tax goes into the school corporation’s operational fund. 

With limited funding from the state, the only source of additional revenue for school corporations is through property taxes. DCSC is struggling to maintain qualified staff due to its lack of funding.  DCSC does not have competitive wages compared to other area school districts. DCSC is the second largest employer in the area. The school district wants its residents to work within the community, not have to travel outside the area for employment. Currently, the school corporation is forced to be reactive on spending rather than proactively planning projects to keep the DCSC  facility functioning smoothly such as roof repair plans or capital improvements. There is simply no excess money to allow the school district to save money for future projects.

If the referendum were to pass, the money would go into a different source called the referendum fund. The money in that fund could be used to pay both educational and operational expenses. Since money cannot cross from the funds, this causes a unique situation. The school could have a pay raise for bus drivers, which is traditionally paid out of the operational fund, or a pay raise for teachers is traditionally paid out of the educational fund . The other side to this is when getting a referendum, there has to be transparency about where the money is going. It is important to be transparent so the community members understand where the additional funding will be spent. 

A referendum must be voted on by the community. Therefore, it is considered a political topic and staff within the school day and on campus must remain neutral.  Staff cannot advertise the referendum nor express their views on the referendum. The lack of information during the school day or on the school campus has students asking a lot of questions and voicing some concerns.  

The number one concern is how much will the referendum cost people. The ballot question is confusing and has language that is difficult to understand. The impact is also different for homes, farmland, and businesses. A tax calculator will be located on the website. Community members may go to this website and type in their address to find the actual increase the referendum will have on their tax bill. Additionally, has an extensive FAQ section as well as a place to sign up to volunteer if interested.

For more information go to