IPS reduces tax hike proposal by millions of dollars

Plan will focus on teacher pay, building upgrades
Posted: 6:00 PM, Feb 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-21 05:06:45Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Public Schools has reduced the amount of money it will ask taxpayers to approve in the May referendum after concerns were raised among the business community and homeowners about how much they would be asked to pay. 

The district's initial plan was to raise $936 million over eight years, but they have now lowered that request to $725.6 million. Under their new request, $525.6 million will be raised over an eight year period. 

IPS wants the money to invest in teacher pay and to pay for building maintenance and improvements. 

The new plan means the average homeowner with a home value of $123,000 will pay about $17 extra each month. 

READ | IPS may consider reducing nearly $1B proposed tax hike | IPS votes to send $1B-worth of funding referenda to May ballot

The school district says cutbacks in state and federal funding, as well as the property tax cap, have forced them to ask for taxpayer help to cover the real cost of education. 

IPS has not requested a tax hike or any money from the state since 2008. 

IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee said the reduced tax hike "...represents as tight as we can go without compromising our core services."

Ferebee also pointed out that the largest chunk of the money raised  - $48.7 million - will go to cover teacher compensation in an effort to retain and attract top educators. Another priority for the district is to improve buildings including lighting, security and energy efficiency.

Ferebee says the district isn’t asking for money just to spend it, saying his administration has made tough decisions in recent years such as closing schools no longer at capacity.

Indianapolis voters will make a decision on this issue when they go to the polls on May 8.