Carmel school board votes to place 5 cent tax increase on November ballot to support school safety

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Carmel Clay Schools will ask voters in November if they support an additional tax to improve school safety.

The school board voted unanimously in favor of a resolution July 10 that will place a referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot that, if approved, would bump the school tax rate by a maximum of 5 cents per $100 of assessed home value for up to eight years. That would equate to an additional $65.13 per year for a home assessed at $250,000.

“I wish that I did not have a need to bring to your attention this proposal and this information about a school safety referendum,” CCS Supt. Michael Beresford said. “I wish that we didn’t have to concern ourselves about intruders coming into our schools, but with the growing trends of violence in our schools across the U.S. and the world, and even just a year ago in a school district right next to us, it behooves us to be responsible and do all we can to keep our kids safe.”

Beresford told the school board that the referendum funds would raise approximately $5 million per year and be used to add school resource officers in elementary schools, fund mental health programming and provide school safety training for teachers.

CCS currently has seven school resource officers, with four at Carmel High School and one at each of the three middle schools. Beresford said the referendum would allow the district to add an officer at each of the 11 elementary schools and support an additional two officers in the future.

The state legislature this year added school safety as an option to be supported through a referendum. The new provision went into effect July 1 and allows districts to set the school safety tax rate no higher than 10 cents per $100 of assessed home value. Previously, only funds for construction projects and operating needs were included as options to be placed on a ballot.

Carmel voters in 2017 overwhelmingly approved an extension of the district’s operating referendum. The referendum tax rate increased by 3 cents, bumping it to 19 cents.

Beresford said he hopes the community is supportive of the plan to improve school safety.

“It is taxing people, and it’s another contribution they’re making to support schools, so everybody has to vote their conscience,” Beresford said. “I think (a successful referendum is) vital to having the kind of atmosphere and environment for our kids to learn in.”

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