VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) Monday night the Vigo County School Corporation had its first of four public meetings to discuss the possibility of a referendum that would be added to the ballot this November. The idea was presented a week ago after the school corporation announced they were 8 million dollars in the red and have been at a spending deficit since 2016. 

It was a turn out few expected: More than 20 residents and local leaders attended Monday night’s public forum to discuss the possibility of a referendum for Vigo county schools.  

“We had questions in regard to technically, we had questions in regard to transportation, the teacher shortage,” Superintendent Dr. Robert Haworth said. “So, people bring what’s important to them to the meetings.”  

“I think it could be a tough sell because if you look at our property taxes we currently pay right now, especially if you own acreage, farmers don’t have the same benefit with tax caps as people in the city have,” Terry Keaton said.  

Terry Keaton worked for the Vigo County School Corporation for more than 40 years as a counselor.  

The jury is still out on whether he is for or against a referendum but believes something needs to be done to help the schools.  

“The part that really stick with me is that a referendum sounds like a bailout but it’s not the Vigo County School Corporation we are bailing out, it’s our state legislators,” Keaton said. “They have let us down, and they haven’t provided the funding for public schools.”  

The corporations cash balance has been declining significantly and is expected to drop another 8 million this year.  

That’s why Superintendent Dr. Robert Haworth is seeking 4 million in cuts with a 7 million ballot referendum.  

A 7 million operating referendum would be 16.2 cent tax rate increase for 8 years.  

That money would go to support safety, security, health, wellness and transportation with the budget cuts starting immediately and divvy out over the next two years.  

However, the referendum does not address capital or building needs, that will come later as a capital referendum spring of 2021.      

“Great turn out tonight, hopefully we can double that for our next meeting, and I think people walking away will feel informed,” Haworth said.  

In order for the measure to be on the ballot it must pass the school board in July. Come November if voters vote against the referendum the corporation will have to wait another year before reintroducing another referendum and Haworth said that could mean making 8 million dollars in cuts to the school’s budget. 

If you would like to attend the next meeting, there will be one June 24th after the school board meeting July 8th and July 22nd at 6 o’clock at the main office on Wabash Avenue and 7th Street.  

For the full board presentation, click  here.