FRANKLIN, Ind. – Franklin Community Schools will ask voters to approve a property tax increase to give teachers and support staff members raises and hire more school counselors.
Superintendent David Clendening calls the proposed tax increase a last resort measure, but necessary to improve the district.
“Our kids deserve great teachers, they deserve great support staff and mental health for safety for our kids,” Clendening said. “And so we’re asking that the community come together and partner with us to help with that.”
The question that will appear on the May 7 ballot will ask voters in the district to approve a property tax increase over the next eight years. The increase would be $0.23 for every $100 of assessed home value. The average homeowner in the district would pay roughly $118 more per year in property taxes.
Clendening says the increase would generate about $3.5 million per year in additional funding for the district. The money would be used to give teachers and support staff members raises and hire additional counselors in schools.
Clendening says Franklin teachers’ starting salary is $37,500 per year, which the district’s research shows is below many other school corporations in the area. Examples include Clark-Pleasant: $40,000, Greenwood Schools: $39,919, Plainfiled: $43,500, Speedway: $45,137.
The plan is to use the money generated by the tax increase to give teachers raises of $2,500 per year. Support staff members would see raises between 10% and 12%.
In addition, more school counselors would help identify students struggling with mental health issues. Three Franklin students have committed suicide in the last two years.
“We want to make sure our kids are getting help when they need help,” Clendening said. “We want to be able to support them and their families.”
Around the district Tuesday, voters shared their thoughts on the tax increase. Ray Vonburg said he would approve as long as the money would help teachers.
“They’re underpaid anyway. I know they spend a lot of their own money on supplies and things,” Vonburg said, “so anything to help them out.”
Andrea Coucher said the increase was within reason.
“That’s $10 a month,” she said. “That’s what, a McDonald’s trip? And for better pay for teachers and for a better school culture if you have more guidance counselors, I think it’s worth it.”
Joe Park, who lives on the outskirts of the district, said he would be okay with a smaller increase, but did not support the amount being proposed.
“I would probably vote no,” Park said. “Because I think that’s too much of an increase on the tax levy.”
If voters approve the tax increase, the extra funding would start coming into the district in 2020. If the increase is not approved, Franklin Community Schools would have to wait nearly two years before proposing a similar referendum.