The impact of the referendum is determined by this formula:
(Gross Assessed Value)-(Deductions)➗ 100 X (Operating Referendum Rate)) = Impact
The Operating Referendum is very straight forward in that the maximum rate is always the same over the eight year life of the tax impact. You can read more about Operating referendums and their eight year life on the FAQ page of our website.
The maximum rate for the operating referendum is $0.2032 per $100 of Net Assessed Value. Net AV is the taxable assessed value after all the taxpayer eligible deduction are removed. Every owner residence receives a $45,000 homestead deduction and a 35% supplemental deduction (25% if AV is $600,00 or above) Most home owners receive a $3,000 mortgage deduction. Beginning with taxes payable in 2024, everyone will receive the $3,000 deduction as the homestead deduction increases to $48,000. There are several other deductions a taxpayer may qualify for.
The school board has indicated they will evaluate the referendum rate each year to supplement the funding reductions by the State. The rate could be lower, but never higher than the maximum rate of $0.2032 per $100 of Net Assessed Value. Unlike all other tax rates on your bill, the referendum rate is unaffected by an increase in district assessed valuation.
The impact calculator on this website uses data from your current tax bill to determine the impact of the referendum rate. The assessed value, net assessed value, and all deductions direct from the current tax bills are used to provide the best possible estimate of your property tax.
The only impact to your taxes that can accurately be measured is for next year. As assessed value goes up in the district the “levy” of the the other funds is shared by more, reducing the impact to everyone.
The Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance also has a referendum calculator which might create a different estimate. The impact calculator on this website and the data file on the referendum calculator provided by the DLGF both use the same 2021 pay 2022 assessed value. However, our calculator has ALL of the deductions preloaded correctly and will present a better estimate. To determine the tax impact for your property, fill out the owner address where the tax bill is mailed and select a parcel from the results.
DCSC revenue remained stagnant but inflation did not. Prior to 2019, DCSC actually had a “reduction in force” (cutting positions) which alleviated the stagnate revenue issues but cut programming and increased class sizes. The schools did not fill positions that were vacated. Delphi Community School Corporation is actually one of the few public school corporations in Indiana that do not have a curriculum director, instructional coaches, test coordinator, or grant facilitator. These positions were all absorbed into roles of the current administration which has led to a loss of administrators. Absorbing multiple positions created the appearance of looking fiscally sound, but it came at the cost of being educationally poor. Additionally, some programming was added (fine arts, Project Lead the Way, additional school nurses and other required state positions – English Learner Teacher of Record) and were slowly depleting the rainy day account that once contained 2 million dollars. The COVID 19/ESSER money from the state & federal funds has helped tremendously, but that money must be spent by 2024. The current stagnant revenue from the state and the current property tax that we are collecting is not sustainable. Last year’s budget the school board did drop the property tax rate for our community. The board is trying to be fiscally responsible with our community tax dollars, yet we must give our students the best education possible.
A school corporation may conduct a referendum to create a property tax levy for purposes of supplementing the revenue it receives from the state funding formula. The Delphi Community School Corporation (DCSC) Board of Trustees passes a resolution that states that the proposed referendum would be used to supplement existing revenues received from the state of Indiana for the purpose of funding daily educational operations, academic and support programs, managing class sizes, and for any other educational needs of the school corporation.
An operating referendum creates an additional levy that goes into a special fund titled “referendum fund” for a period not to exceed eight years. However, a referendum tax rate may be re-imposed or extended under the law only if approved by the voters of the district. Only one operating referendum can be in place in a school district.
Indiana law requires Delphi Community Schools hold the election in May or November. If the election occurred in 2023, the school corporation would be required to pay election costs for rural areas not holding a municipal election. No election costs are charged if the election occurs in 2022
The revenue is collected by the county through the property tax bills of property taxpayers in the school district. The money does not pass through the state, but goes directly to the school for
the purposes of supplementing the education and operation funds of the school corporation. The education fund primarily pays for faculty and classroom staff.
The referendum is only on the ballot of voters registered to vote in the DCSC district. Registered voters living outside of the DCSC district will not be voting on the referendum. The reduced referendum tax rate will take effect only if a majority of the voters vote “Yes” to the ballot question. If it passes, the reduced referendum rate goes into effect next year.
The referendum ballot language is established by Indiana law, approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
The language in the November 2022 referendum was passed by the politicians in Indianapolis the spring 2021 legislative session in an effort to scare voters and take away local control. It uses a formula which does not correctly reflect the impact of the tax rate.
The referendum ballot as submitted to the school board reads:
“Shall the Delphi Community Schools increase property taxes paid to the School Corporation by homeowners and business for 8 years immediately following the holding of the referendum for the purpose of funding daily educational operations, academic and support programs, managing class sizes, and for any other educational needs of the school corporation, at a maximum referendum property tax rate of $0.2032? If this public question is approved by the voters, the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a residence would increase by 23.13% and the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a business property would increase by 23.13%. The most recent property tax referendum proposed by the school corporation was held in 2009 and failed.”
The formula DCSC was required to follow for the percentages of the tax effect, is not an accurate representation due to several factors. Averages of overall taxing district rates and assessed values are distorted in the formula and not truly representative of the taxpayer base. The actual increase to an average median value home in 2023 is $77.23. A taxpayer in Delphi city, paying the highest taxes in our district, would see an increase of about 7½% The school’s tax rate decreased by $0.1285 from 2020. The current rate is the lowest it has been in four years.
The legislators and regulators in Indianapolis would not allow this information to be included.However, they do require the results of a project referendum held 13 years ago to be included in the ballot. This referendum was held during the beginning of education financing reform when there didn’t appear to be any alternatives to making essential repairs. Unlike this 2022 referendum, the ballot question in 2009 wasn’t even supported by all of the school board.
Only those who pay property tax in the Delphi Community School district pay the referendum tax. Commercial rental property owners may choose to pass the tax on to their tenants. Senior citizens, homeowners, mortgage holders and some other types of taxpayers receive exemptions that lower their assessed value and lessen the impact of the tax rate compared to others. By law, the rate is applied to the net assessed value of the property after these deductions. The law does not allow certain classes of taxpayers to be exempt from the rate. For instance, charging only property taxpayers with children in the schools would be considered tuition and against the law established by the Indiana Constitution that says education is tuition free and available to all.
DCSC’s incoming transfer rate of students from outside the district has actually increased by three times over the last five years. The resulting enrollment overall has only dropped by 2% in 2021. In 2022, DCSC enrollment is only down 18 students from 2017. Opportunities and great teachers attract students from other districts. These transfer students bring in an extra $670,000 which helps to provide teachers and programming to all students.
The Delphi Community School Corporation (DCSC) Board of Trustees will annually review the coming year’s budget and make a decision on the amount of the referendum rate to put in place up to &0.2032 per $100 of assessed value. The rate approved by the voters is a maximum rate and the board after reviewing the budget can decide to set a lower rate. During the eight years of the referendum, if the Indiana Legislature voted to significantly change the funding formula or make other types of school funding changes the board could even recommend that rate be eliminated or the referendum be ended earlier than the 8 years in the question.
If a majority of the voters voting on the operating referendum vote in opposition, DCSC will not have the funding necessary for Delphi schools to retain teachers, keep class sizes low and provide the curriculum offerings the students need. Voters only need to look at the problems other school districts like Elkhart Community Schools have experienced after their referendum failed.
Budget cuts would have to be made in critical areas. Without the referendum and the flexibility it provides in funding, class sizes will have to increase. In addition to larger class sizes this will also mean fewer opportunities for students.
Another public question on the same or substantially similar referendum may not be submitted to the voters earlier than two years after the date of the election without a petition of voters to allow it in one year. The earliest the referendum could be presented would be the November 2024 election. DCSC would not be able to receive the critical referendum funding beginning in January 2023.
The state distributes money from revenue it collects in income tax, sales tax, gaming revenues, etc. to the almost 400 Indiana school corporations, virtual schools and charter school associations based on a funding formula the state legislature creates and passes bi-annually as part of the state budget process.
All funding issues begin with the 100 legislators in the Indiana House. The state funding formula provides about 85% of the revenue in DCSC’s Education Fund. About 90% of this fund pays for teachers and staff of the corporation. The funding formula begins with a per pupil “foundation” or base amount.
The foundation amount is multiplied by the “complexity index” to determine additional funding required for the education of “at-risk” children. A significant inequity in the funding formula occurs when the money for an at-risk student does not follow the child to another school district. For example, the top funded districts receive over $2,000 extra for each at-risk student. When these same students move to DCSC, the millions of extra dollars do not follow those students. There are no significant adjustments to the funding formula for a school corporation based upon achievement scores. Most discussion on “merit pay” centers on individual teacher pay and not the amount given to schools to fund those teachers. There is also no accountability for achievement results from those school corporations and charter school associations with higher levels of at-risk students from the additional money they generated.
The 2008 Property Tax Reform legislation and the continuing funding decline against inflation since, has now made the inequities in the funding formula a serious funding crisis by making state funding based on the General Assembly’s formula the only source of funding to pay for
classroom instruction. Changes to the foundation amount, adding an index for academic results and some other tweaks to the formula are all possible, but will most likely be gradual changes over the next several years if at all.
The legislature addressed some of these concerns in the spring 2021 legislative session. School districts in Indiana will receive new money from the state this year and Delphi is appreciative of the increase. However, this percentage increase still means a substantial inflation adjusted deficiency since 2010 as little change has occurred in the actual amounts.
By state law, school districts can’t use other school funds (Debt Service, Transportation, Capital Projects Funds) to pay Education Fund expenses such as salaries. For example, money used to build buildings cannot be used for teacher salaries and instructional supplies. These laws also limit creative funding reduction ideas like four day school weeks, cutting transportation to save teachers, changes in food service, charging parents tuition and more.
No teaching positions have been lost because of past or current building projects.
Per the Indiana Legislature, the school corporation must have a referendum revenue spending plan. This plan is located on the Indiana Department of Local Government website. The Delphi Community School Corporation Revenue Plan is as follows:
Specific purposes for which the referendum levy will be used:
Estimate of the annual amounts that will be expended for each purpose:
Funding daily educational operations, academic and support programs
Managing class sizes
Attracting and retaining teachers
Other educational needs of the school corporation
If the voters decide to support the referendum, the money will be spent on people and educational programs. Specifically, the majority of the spending will be on the educational needs of the school corporation which includes hiring and retention of teachers and support staff: cafeteria employees, bus drivers, instructional aides, and custodial and maintenance staff. Currently, as the second largest employer in Carroll County, DCSC does not have competitive pay rates that attract the necessary support staff to successfully manage a school corporation. Additionally, if to attract more families to Delphi, this area needs to have employment opportunities that allow people to support their families.
The spending plan is split into four categories. The category with the largest spending is “other educational needs of the school corporation.” This category is approximately 40% of the spending and includes compensation of DCSC support staff which includes bus drivers, cafeteria employees, instructional aides, and custodial staff. DCSC currently cannot maintain staffing in these areas due to our lack of reasonable pay rates. The school year already started lacking in each of these key staffing areas. DCSC is currently short bus drivers to start the year and are trying to problem solve by combining routes. A full custodial staff must be maintained to continue with deep cleaning prioritizing the students’ and teachers’ health. DCSC is short staffed in the cafeterias which causes less variety in the meals offered. (See additional answer) Finally, all of the instructional aides positions have not been filled; thus, it makes it difficult to meet students’ needs. DCSC must be competitive with salaries to ensure that positions are attractive to qualified people thus ensuring this community’s students have the education they desire.
Additionally, in this category, the cost of fuel, gas for heating, electricity, technology, cleaning supplies, paper, and a variety of other necessities that the school corporation needs to run daily operations are increasing in cost. For the safety of our students, requirements regarding annual bus purchases are also increasing in cost. With the current revenue, the school corporation does not have additional funds to be proactive in their spending; therefore, at this time DCSC is just keeping the facility functioning.
The next category is “attracting and retaining teachers.” It became quickly apparent when school corporations closed in the spring of 2020 that the majority of students learn best when in a classroom. Delphi Community Schools must attract and retain quality educators so the students can receive the best education they deserve. Hence, 25% of the referendum spending will be to have competitive teacher salaries to mitigate the current loss of teachers to larger school corporations who are paying more for teachers. Currently, DCSC has lost multiple teachers to TSC and to the Lafayette School Corporation. A week before school, had several positions still trying to be filled. To attract and retain the quality educational staff this community has come to expect, then DCSC needs to be competitive with the salaries for teachers of the community youth.
The third category is “managing class sizes.” Statistically, having lower class sizes at the lower grade levels cultivates a sound educational start for students and allows students success at the beginning of their educational career. Thus, 18% of the referendum spending will be to maintain the lower class sizes created using ESSER money (funding that will end in 2024). By adding additional sections of kindergarten, first, second, and third grade, the student-teacher ratio was lowered which cultivates a conducive learning environment which allows for differentiation of instruction and meets the needs of Delphi Community school students.
Finally, the fourth category is “funding daily educational operations, academic, and support programs.” Maintaining a well-rounded education for all students includes exposure to a variety of academic opportunities, fine arts, a multiple curricular paths, and extracurricular activities. Thus, 17% of the referendum spending will be spent on educational programming and daily educational operations. The goal of school is for students to find their passion and then develop that passion so they can graduate from Delphi Community School Corporation ready to pursue their career and/or higher education. Since DCSC is a small school corporation, it is important to have the funding to maintain a variety of pathways, support programs, and accelerated learning opportunities that engage students’ interests. This includes maintaining high ability classes, fine arts, intervention programs, and having a well rounded selection of career and technical education courses. Currently, the high school has added manufacturing to their curriculum and is looking at adding additional career and technical education classes in the future if the referendum is passed. Additionally, the school corporation needs to ensure they are meeting the students’ social and emotional needs so they can be successful. An additional guidance counselor has been added at Camden Early Childhood Center, an “English as a second language” teacher at the secondary level, and a corporation behavioral specialist. All of these components are necessary yet difficult to maintain with the current funding.
The stimulus funding will result in the district receiving approximately $2.15 million in total. This funding has many restrictions as to how it can be used. The funding has been spent on COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the replacement of HVAC systems to improve air quality, and is currently being used to pay salaries for several teachers to keep class sizes small as students returned to school after virtual learning. While the additional funds have been extremely helpful to schools as the pandemic’s impact continues, they are one-time funds and DCSC cannot depend on these funds to offset the loss due to property tax caps and changes to state funding.
There is a huge shortage of new teachers entering the educational field. Superintendent Ann-Marie Circle explained, “When I entered the educational field 32 years ago, it was very difficult to find a position. Currently, the abundance of teachers that entered education 30 to 40 years ago are retiring and there is no one to replace them. Public schools across the United States are at a critical shortage of educators; therefore, schools are competing for teachers.”
This year, the state mandated an increase in minimum teacher pay. Delphi Community School Corporation was staying competitive with their starting salary until this year. All school corporations were forced to raise their starting teacher pay. The larger school corporations with a greater revenue source were able to increase their starting pay significantly more than the minimum of $40,000. This has caused inequity across school corporations, and thus we are losing teachers to school corporations that are paying teachers more. We also have a shortage of housing in the Delphi community. Thus, new teachers are finding housing in neighboring counties, especially Tippecanoe County, which is booming with affordable housing. DCSC teachers are driving from another county which has a starting salary that is over $43,000 and the DCSC starting salary is $40,600. Superintendent Circle added, “Additionally, we have had some excellent teachers from TSC apply for our positions, yet we cannot afford to pay them what they are making at TSC. Thus, we must be competitive with our salary for teachers if we are going to compete with other school districts. We recently lost two more elementary teachers the week before school started who took positions with a greater salary at TSC and Lafayette School Corporation. Our students deserve the best education possible; thus, we must ensure our teachers are compensated!”
Delphi Community School Corporation is having a difficult time competing with area wages for support staff. This school year the district has been significantly short staffed in the cafeteria department in all school buildings, especially middle school and high school. This has caused a significant issue with meal preparations and being able to offer a variety of meals due to the lack of staffing to prepare and serve food. Thus, this impacts the quality and variety of the meals. This is an area of concern that the referendum would help address. We need to raise the hourly wage for all support staff which includes the cafeteria staff to assist in filling vacant roles which would allow better preparation and meal options for DCSC students. Currently, DCSC is not competitive in pay amount, and thus are having a difficult time finding employees to work in the cafeteria. With the current level of revenue that DCSC receives from the state and property taxes, we cannot afford to pay hourly staff the wages they deserve.
All spending for public entities is public information. There is a public hearing yearly to discuss the upcoming budget. Information is also found on the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for all school corporations and public agencies. Additionally, the school board is very transparent in their board meetings on any spending $5000 or greater. DCSC post all agendas, minutes, and upcoming meetings on the corporation website: delphi.k12.in.us. Additionally, if the voters choose to pass the referendum, the referendum spending plan and the rate ($0.2032 is a maximum rate. The board has an opportunity each year to lower the rate) must be reviewed and discussed annually.
Check back for more FAQ’s in the coming days