ELKHART — Voters in the Concord Community Schools district have apparently rejected the district’s efforts to renew a school tax hike that school officials said was needed to help offset lack of funds from the state.

The unofficial count, according to Elkhart County Clerk Christopher Anderson, shows that the referendum failed with 1,514 voting “no” to 1,438 voting “yes” to renew the district’s existing referendum tax levy, approved in 2014, but at a reduced level, from a maximum of 40.5 cents to 32 cents per $100 of net assessed valuation beginning in 2022.

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This was mishandled by the school system in epic fashion. I did not see one advertisement on TV for the referendum. I did not receive any mail, email, phone call, or any personal contact for the referendum. I did receive a mailing for my mother-in-law who passed away several years ago and never lived in the Concord district. That mailing was received several weeks AFTER early voting started. I did not see a yard sign until after early voting started while numerous NO signs had been up for over a month.

The most informative info I saw that explained the referendum best and answered many questions was at supportconcord.com. The problem was that despite looking for info on the referendum, the only thing I could find was the text of the referendum on the Elkhart County Clerk site. I stumble on the link to the supportconcord.com site by seeing a short article in the Truth about the Chamber of Commerce allowing 40 preregistered people to attend a briefing by Concord. I found the site 2 weeks AFTER early voting had started.

So, the Concord strategy to win the referendum appears to be that they assumed everyone would support it and rather than do any advertising to reach voters, they set up a few meetings where they expected the voters to come to them. There are voter files available where a simple mail merge could be set up and advertising could have easily been sent to all voter addresses. Those files also have phone numbers where voters could have been contacted, but they were not.

When the last referendum was passed, it was sold as a one-time event. I don’t recall it being advertised as a recurring tax that would keep being extended. After it was passed, voters saw a Taj Mahal type weight room built and a theater that is perceived to be well beyond what was needed. I think voters felt duped and the school system waited much, much, much too long to state their case and never did advertise to the community for the current referendum. The info on that website was very good, but it was not distributed to all voters and the feeble attempt to push the YES vote happened AFTER many votes had already been cast. They dramatically underestimated the discontent in the district that was apparent just driving around the area.

In two years, they can try again. It will be a tougher sell because they can’t use the lower tax rate than the previous referendum disguise because it will clearly be a new tax. Hopefully with lessons learned they will be able to start a strong drive well in advance of early voting and incorporate a robust advertising campaign.

This failure did not need to happen.


Welp....You can probably kiss some very fine teachers goodbye... When neighboring districts pay 10-20% more for comparative salary, and the well just ran dry, what do you think is going to happen? A sad day in one of the areas top school systems...


[angry]This shows that education of our children is not important enough to us when less than 20% of eligible voters took the time to cast their ballot, This shows that our children education is less important than what's in our wallet. Shame on all of us.

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