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Referendums for Elkhart and Concord schools divide Elkhart Truth readers

Dozens of readers have written to The Elkhart Truth about the Elkhart and Concord referendums that will be on the May 6 primary ballot. How do you plan to vote?

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.

There are nine days left until the May 6 primary elections, when voters will have the final say on the referendums for  Elkhart Community Schools and Concord Community Schools.

Voters have been extremely interested in this topic. The Elkhart Truth's readers have sent in dozens of People's Forum letters about the referendums during the past few months.

Here's what some have said.

ELKHART

"By voting yes twice May 6th, you are saddling every property owner with this 20-year tax increase, and you are crossing your fingers and hoping that they don’t come back for a second, third and fourth dip into the same bucket and raise property taxes even more as pools need repair and as vouchers increase and kids leave public education. I don’t think that we should put our elderly property owners, many of whom are on fixed incomes, or others in our community at risk of losing their homes because they are unable to pay the eventual exorbitant increases on their property taxes." - Jeff Petermann, Elkhart

"Public schools are the backbone of our educational system in this great nation. This public education system is supported by local and state taxes. The Elkhart Community School Corporation lost $5.3 million due to tax caps in 2013 and is projected to lose $6.3 million in 2014.

The operating referendum would pay for transportation operating costs for the next seven years. If passed, this would allow the school district to shorten the two-mile walk zone, bus rides and the elementary school day.

The capital project referendum would pay for major safety upgrades and building repairs in all Elkhart Community School buildings. These upgrades include class room safety protection locks, roof repairs, securing builds open-concept entries, security cameras and many other major building repairs." - Ron Davis, Elkhart

"I believe that one of the schools has said that it had an increase of 600 students. Perhaps it should check to see how many of them are children of illegal immigrants. The last time I attended a program at my granddaughter's class at school there appeared to be about 50 percent of the students with non-English-speaking parents. The school provided a translator for the parents. I personally resent having to pay for educating people who are not here legally." - Lila Lange, Elkhart

"If we can't transport our children to school, if our children aren't housed in safe and secure buildings and if our schools can't be properly maintained, then the learning environment becomes substandard and the education of our children becomes increasingly difficult. The referendum money won't solve all these issues. However, they will help to sustain and maintain what so many of us —parents, teaches and administrators alike — have worked so hard to create: an Elkhart Community Schools environment of which we can all be proud." - Elizabeth Bond, Elkhart

CONCORD

"Let's face facts: The Concord school administration has shown itself to being irresponsible in the use of public funds. Despite the slippage in academic prowess (their academic standing has slipped steadily in the 15 years I've lived here) they continue to pour money into extracurricular pursuits while cutting academic staff.

I can't help but recall that my high school in Pennsylvania that graduated more attendees in 1975 than Concord does currently had a marching band called the "Marching 100" and they sounded at least as good as the approximately 400 in the Minuteman assembly. Either a little moderation on the part of the program administrators or a transfer of the lion's share of the band expenses to the parents of the ersatz musicians is my suggestion for cutting costs." - John Landi, Elkhart

"One of the most important factors in calculating a property’s value is the school system in which that property is located. Property values are directly tied to the reputation and desirability of a school system, whether or not a property owner actually has children enrolled in that school system. Over the years, I have seen many homes advertised as “in Concord Schools.” Clearly, that has been a major selling point, as it is often the first line in the ad. If we don’t approve this referendum by agreeing to a modest tax increase today, the quality of Concord Schools will decline, along with property values. I believe it’s in everyone’s interest to invest in Concord Schools — for our children, our community, and yes, for ourselves." - Pam Hluchota, Goshen

"We hear from the federal government down to local city and county councils and now our schools that everything and everyone is too big to fail, and must be bailed out. Many of us are just about tapped out. No tax increase. No more money. Make the cuts. Make the hard choices. The schools don’t have a funding problem. They have a spending problem." - Shan J. Robinson, Elkhart

"At Concord, the amount spent per student has been reduced each of the last five years. To achieve these savings without comprising programs, the administration has done standard belt-tightening things that we would expect. They delayed capital expenditures (like replacement of older buses), kept labor costs down (minimal raises, no new teaching staff to replace retirees), eliminated field trips, absorbed larger class sizes, and held off on replacing out-of-date computers.

Then, after all of these cuts, Concord was told that it would get $4.2M less then budgeted and approved by the state — not for some distant future date, but for calendar year 2014......This is not what is best for the school or the community. It is time to think past the end of your driveway and vote yes." - Larry Shank, Elkhart

What do you think? How do you plan on voting for the Elkhart or Concord referendums?


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