Elkhart schools referendum questions come under fire from Libertarian leader

Jeff Petermann says schools would rather raise taxes than cut "non-essential" extra-curricular activities.

Posted on March 8, 2014 at 5:46 p.m.

ELKHART — The push by Elkhart Community Schools for increased funding via a pair of proposed property tax hikes is generating sharp criticism from the head of the local Libertarian Party.

Jeff Petermann, chairman of the Elkhart County Libertarian Party, charged that school district leadership "would much rather just mandate more of Elkhart citizens' hard-earned money taken" than cut in other areas, like "non-essential" extra-curricular activities.

In a statement Friday, March 7, he said the state's educational voucher program factors in tight funding in the district and that losses will continue as the program expands, resulting in more kids going to private schools. Thus, Elkhart Community Schools faces "the challenge of becoming competitive or going broke."

Petermann continued: "Rest assured…this is not the last request for higher taxes to fund budget woes for ECS … There will be many, many more until they address the actual issues of the lack of confidence many people have in government schools.”

Two referendum questions go before voters on May 6 calling for property tax hikes to increase funding in the Elkhart school district to help cover transportation and capital projects costs. Schools, like cities, counties and other local government entities in Indiana, have been hit hard by property tax losses brought on by tax caps. Tax hikes allowed under referendum questions are one means to counter such dips.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.

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