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Fort Wayne voters to consider school referendum for weapons detection systems, more

A view of the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board meeting on the night of June 12, 2023, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Image from Livestream on YouTube)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) — Voters in Indiana’s largest school district in November will vote on a referendum that could lead to the addition of weapons detection systems for its five high schools, the district’s board unanimously decided Monday.

The devices would be used at school entrances and at after-school events in the district of nearly 28,500 students.

“The referendum would also pay for enhanced exterior door lockout systems, intrusion alarms, new cameras, handheld radios and additional classroom door locks,” says a news release from the district.

The Fort Wayne Community Schools has estimated the eight-year referendum, if approved Nov. 7 by voters, would raise more than $12 million in 2024 alone.

The average homestead property value in the district, $167,325, would pay an estimated $76 a year in school taxes if the referendum was approved, the district has estimated. That’s an increase of $6 for the next eight years.

In recent months, multiple community meetings were conducted to explain the referendum and what it would do for the schools preceded Monday night’s board vote.

The referendum also would provide for additional personnel. Under the proposal, school resource police officers would increase from nine to 21, and security personnel would increase from three to six. The district would also increase mental health personnel and advocates for students to serve the five high schools.

The referendum also would expand the Alive Peacemaker Academy, a nonviolent leadership development program for selected sophomores, juniors and seniors at South Side High School.

The ballot language presented Monday night the superintendent read, “Shall the Fort Wayne Community Schools, Allen County, Indiana, increase property taxes paid to the school corporation by homeowners and businesses for eight (8) years immediately following the holding of the referendum for the purpose of funding salaries and benefits for security, mental health and support personnel and costs from services from third-party providers and acquisition and/or installation of safety and security equipment and technology used in connection with the operation of one or more school buildings? If this public question is approved by the voters, the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year would increase by 12.74% and the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a business property would increase by 11.96% The most recent property tax referendum proposed by the school corporation was held in 2020 and passed.”