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Fishers debates increasing taxes for schools

FISHERS, Ind (WISH) – Hamilton Southeastern School leaders say homeowners must pay more in taxes or the district will face layoffs and larger class sizes.

The issue will be on the May primary ballot, and it’s already sparking debate.

“I’m from New York originally, where the property taxes probably were three to four times what they are out here, so for what I pay, and what goes into the school district,” Fishers resident Larry Dowd said. “I don’t really have a problem with it at all.”

Another resident told 24-Hour News 8 that every dollar counts in this economy.

Hamilton Southeastern School leaders are asking neighbors to increase property taxes.

For a home valued at $100,000, the owner would pay $41.67 more a year in taxes if passed. For a $250,000 home, the owner would be $166.07 more, and for a home valued at $500,000, it jumped to $373.26 more a year in taxes. It’s an increase Fishers homeowners haven’t seen in seven years.

“We’ve had a 17 percent increase in our enrollment since 2009, and we have not had proportionate increase in our facility,” Hamilton Southeastern School District Superintendent Dr. Allen Bourff said. “The result is that we have some large class sizes.”

To fix this, the referendum would allow the district to generate $8 million. It would use this to increase pay teachers and hire 43 more.

The funds aren’t just about adding more teachers, but also freeing up space. District officials say they would use the money to buy mobile buildings, which would make classrooms smaller. “After that, then we talk about some permanent solutions,” Bourff said.

It’s an idea some parents like to hear because they say growing class sizes is a concern. “I have a 6th grader at the Hamilton Southeastern new junior high, and she’s up at 31,” Lingle said.

This referendum, district officials say, would help them attract good teachers. Right now, the starting salary is $3,000 less than the top paying district in the state.