Carmel Clay Schools to seek referendum in 2017


By Mark Ambrogi

With the Carmel Clay Schools’ seven-year referendum operational tax expiring at the end of 2017, a campaign will begin soon for a new one.

Carmel is among the lowest-funded school districts in Indiana in the amount it receives per pupil from the state. The problem stems from when the state funding formula changed in 2009, eliminating local property tax support for the General Fund.

CCC Supt. Nicholas Wahl will make the recommendation to school board in January that the referendum election be held in May.

“The recommendation will be to keep the overall education tax rate flat,” Wahl said. “We’re recommending for the operational tax rate a three cent increase, but based upon retiring other debt, it will not increase the overall education rate.”

The referendum rate approved in 2010 was 16 cents at $100 per assessed property value.

“We’re recommending 19 cents but to keep the overall education school tax rate flat,” Wahl said. “So, in other words, if the taxpayer says ‘how much are my taxes going up for this?’ They’re not, because the referendum is only one component of the overall tax rate. So we’re retiring some of the debt within the tax rate. So the taxes will remain the same.”

Wahl said the referendum is necessary for the district to maintain its high academic standards.

“When they changed that in 2009 for us to maintain our students programs, the thoughtful citizens of Carmel passed the referendum in 2010,” Wahl said. “That referendum pulls in $14.5 million for us, which is the equivalent of 200 teachers. This goes straight to teaching and learning, the operational dollars.”

In other district news, Wahl said a technology committee, including teachers, administrators, parent focus groups and student focus groups, made a recommendation to move from technology integration to a digital conversion plan, which means the district is integrating more technology into daily instruction to amplify the instruction the teachers are presenting every day in the classroom.

“The devices came about after they identified the best teaching and learning practices,” Wahl said. “So we’ve had the rollout of devices to teachers and increased access to students this year on three different platforms. The teachers have increased access to iPads or chrome books or the Microsoft convertible tablet. It’s increased the level of access to devices for the professional development of teachers as well as students. Every teacher has a mobile instructional device. We’ve increased the number of devices in all of our buildings this year on those three platforms as well.”