Residents share support, opposition to Washington Community Schools referendum

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WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Washington Community Schools are finding they have less space in their classrooms.

“At the junior high level, I have some classes in English where I have 30+ kids in a classroom and we’re bursting at the seams for whatever reason,” said Superintendent Dan Roach.

Now is the time to build into our community, our kids, and our future.

Pete Parsons, Washington business owner and parent

That bursting is part of the reason behind a referendum on November 5th’s ballot, which will ask all residents within the school district to help fund a $38 million project over the next 20 years; a project that will end with a new 5th-8th grade middle school.

“It alleviates overcrowding for the present time at our elementary schools, and then on the other end, it will allow for space at the current junior high to be taken by the high school and there are a number of programs that can be added,” said Roach.

The funding will come from property taxes, which leaves some locals upset.
“We wanted to build a garage, we wanted to put in a pool, that is on hold, and looking at this, mine will go up another $500 at least, and the only reason mine is $500 is because of a veteran’s credit that not everybody gets,” said Washington resident Rhett Burton.

Burton says she’s done research, and believes this will not lead to economic growth.

“We’re looking at a ripple effect, well if you raise your price and I’m paying extra on my taxes, how am I going to pay my taxes and still shop at your shop or ear at your restaurant?” said Burton.
Those in favor of the referendum say overcrowding can stunt a child’s education.

“My son struggled a little in elementary school and there were so many kids in the class that he felt like he was being pushed to learn the next step when he really wasn’t ready for the last,” said Washington Schools Business Manager and local parent Carrie Alford.

And supporters say that the benefits of the new school will greatly outweigh the burden on taxpayers.

“The median homeowner in the Washington Community School District is looking at less than $13 a month increase,” said Alford.

“I’M a CPA, so I understand the tax impact to people. Yes, it’s a cost; to me it’s an investment. Now is the time to build into our community, our kids, and our future,” said local business owner and parent Pete Parsons.

Currently, the median household in Washington makes just over $36 thousand a year, and 66% of Washington schoolchildren receive free or reduced lunches, making economic growth a priority for the community.

For more information on the referendum, and a way to calculate how much the tax increase will impact you, click here.

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