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The Journal Gazette

  • FILE: Hickory Center Elementary students play a math game.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 1:00 am

NACS has signatures for project

Voters in May to decide fate of $34 million referendum

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Northwest Allen County Schools continues to check off boxes as it works to place a $34 million referendum for a new elementary school and other improvements on the May ballot.

Community members are also stepping up to help with the referendum efforts.

The 7,500-student district wants to build an elementary school to accommodate growth. It has gained about 500 elementary students since 2009-10 and expects to add nearly 350 more by 2022-23, a recent demographic study found.

Referendums can help school districts fund major facilities projects, such as new construction and renovations. Property taxes approved by voters through referendums are not subject to property tax caps.

The referendum process includes collecting 500 signatures from registered voters and property owners to get a question on the ballot – an achievement the school district learned it accomplished last week, spokeswoman Lizette Downey said Monday.

In a matter of days, she said, the district collected more than 700 signatures following the school board's vote last month that propelled the referendum forward. Of the 716 signatures, 658 were valid, according to an official document.

A political action committee, Friends of Northwest Allen County Schools, has also been formed in support of the referendum.

The PAC, which will have its own website and social media accounts, is seeking volunteers and donations, member Bruce Fey said in a Facebook conversation Monday.

Volunteers can attend one of two organizational meetings set for Jan. 25 and 28 at Pathway Community Church, he said. He did not have the times readily available.

For more information, those interested in can contact volunteerfornacs@gmail.com or a PAC member; Liz Smith is president, and Greg Haney is treasurer, Fey said. He can also be contacted through the Charger Advocates Facebook page.

Donations can be sent to Friends of Northwest Allen County Schools, 111 Hathaway Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46845.

District officials have not announced the location for the proposed school, which – along with a land purchase – will account for $31 million of the proposed $33.98 million referendum.

The district is also planning about $3 million in safety and efficiency improvements districtwide, including secure entrances at four elementary schools.

For taxpayers with homes at the district's median home value of $173,300, the maximum tax impact is estimated at $8.54 monthly, or $102.50 annually, officials have said.

The impact on taxpayers could be zero for those below the tax cap.

asloboda@jg.net