Carmel Clay Schools is proposing a tax referendum in November and voters will get to decide whether to approve an additional 5 cents in taxes for every $100 of assessed property value. The money will go toward increasing mental health services and hiring about a dozen new school resource officers.
I sat down with Supt. Michael Beresford on his day off to discuss the referendum. I hit him with the hard questions so I could understand the issue, and while I don’t have time to go over every detail in this letter, I want to briefly tell you why I’ll vote yes.
I believe it’s a small amount of money that will not only help prevent a school shooting, but will benefit our students in so many other ways.
For a home valued at $250,000, the estimated annual cost would be about $65. While I understand that every penny counts, I think we could all give up one or two cappuccinos a month to make sure children are safe.
Obviously having school resource officers on site would help in an active shooter situation, but their value goes beyond that. These officers can break up fights, reduce vaping in our schools and immediately respond in an emergency. When we talk about school safety we have to think about more than a shooting. It can mean a car accident in the parking lot, a tornado touching down, an attempted suicide or — like we saw in December — an explosion that takes out the roof.
If passed, the referendum will also increase the number of CCS social workers and increase their pay. There will also be a program that allows trained mental health professionals to come into the schools to offer counseling. Some of the cost would be covered by insurance but CCS could help those with financial need. The benefit here is that students could receive mental health counseling they need without having to leave the school. Not only could appropriate care help prevent a tragedy but mental health counseling goes far beyond that. Many students would benefit. It could help increase students’ grades and give them tools to be happy, healthy and successful.
In summary, I support the proposed referendum not only because it will make the schools safer but also the students will be happier and healthier. To me, that’s worth $5 a month.
Adam Aasen, Carmel resident and city council candidate