VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Official language that will appear on the ballot regarding the Vigo County School Corporation’s referendum to remodel its three high schools has been preliminarily approved by the Vigo County Board of Elections.

The board held their regular meeting Friday morning in which they gave their approval.

Board member Brad Newman explained to the board that this was a preliminary approval that needed to be made in order to allow the referendum to be on the May election ballot. Next, the language will be sent for approval from the Department of Local Government Finance, before being returned for final approval by the board.

The preliminary reading approved reads as followed,

“Shall Vigo County School Corporation increase property taxes paid to the school corporation by homeowners and businesses? If this public question is approved by voters, the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a residence would increase by TBD% and the average property tax paid to the school corporation  per year on a business property would increase by TBD%. The political subdivision may issue bonds or enter into a lease to fund the 2022 High School Safety, Security, Infrastructure, Replacement and Restoration Project which includes the construction of academic spaces and renovation of and improvements to North Vigo High School, South Vigo High School and West Vigo Middle/High School, site improvements and the purchase of equipment and technology, which is estimated to cost $261,790,000  over 22 years. The most recent property tax referendum within the boundaries of the political subdivision for which this public question is being considered was proposed by the Vigo County School Corporation in 2019 and passed.”

Approved preliminary reading

That question is authored out of Indianapolis. Unless the state changes it, the question will appear on a ballot as it reads today.

The proposed project is a $260 million dollar referendum that would address construction and renovation needs at Vigo County’s three high schools, while allowing the evaluation other facilities.

“This is a comprehensive facility maintenance plan and definitely does address our high school needs and maintain our elementary school needs,” Superintendent Dr. Rob Haworth, said.

The referendum would only impact the school tax rate. VCSC is offering a tax calculator for homeowners to know how their taxes will be affected. Rates may differ pending on residency.

“In some of our townships the school tax rate could be up to 50 percent, out in our rural areas,” Haworth said. “If you live in the city you know our tax rate is about a quarter or less.”

The corporation has formed a political action committee to inform the community about this referendum through an awareness campaign.

“What the political action campaign will do is try to harness all of that support as we move forward to create an awareness campaign,” Haworth said. “That will hopefully bring success in May.”

Next month, VCSC officials, educators and the community will meet to consider designs and renovation projects. If passed, Haworth says construction could start by next spring.