Welcome back from spring break! Only six weeks left until the end of yet another successful school year. Our students and staff have certainly earned the summer respite for all the long hours spent fulfilling the district’s vision to experience excellence, explore opportunities and realize potential. However, the sad truth is, hundreds of our finest staff members may not return to our buildings this fall.
That is because the Carmel Clay School district’s 2010 operational referendum is set to expire Dec. 31. It currently provides the district with $14.5 million annually. Without it, we stand to lose at least 260 jobs, academic programs not required for graduation and valuable extracurricular programs.
Many ask, “how did we get here?” Changes in school funding in 2009 cost our school district millions of dollars. The cut was so deep, in fact, that Carmel Clay Schools now receives the second-lowest per pupil funding of any school district in the state – to the tune of $786 less per child. Our current referendum fills that gap.
Unfortunately, Indiana has essentially become a referendum state, where school districts are forced to pass referenda for a workable amount of funding, especially in communities with high-performing schools. In fact, all but one of the five school districts in Hamilton County has passed similar operational referendums.
The referendum we are asking Carmel voters to replace will not allow us to do anything new. It will simply allow us to maintain what we do best. For the same school tax rate that you are currently paying, we will be able to keep our best and brightest employees and preserve the stellar academic and extracurricular programs the community has come to expect.
I’ve spoken with city leaders, business owners, staff and parents, and the sentiment is the same. Strong schools equal a strong community. While there seems to be an early groundswell of support for the referendum, we cannot take its passage for granted. Simply put – every vote counts. We have 16,000 reasons to get this right. So please mark your calendars for the Special Election May 2 – and vote yes for each and every student who is, or someday will become, a Greyhound.
Nicholas D. Wahl, superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools