Westfield Schools move forward with $90 million referendum

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WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — The Westfield Washington School district is moving forward with trying to put a $90 million referendum on the May ballot. On Tuesday the school board voted on the issue.

In November, the district was able to pass an operating referendum that generated $5.5 million. The latest is meant to expand and renovate some of the schools. But not everyone is on board.

Marge Rigdon has lived in Westfield all of her life. “I have seen it go from a little farm town to what it is now. I still love Westfield. It’s a hometown,” Rigdon said.

Rigdon graduated from Westfield. So did her children. Her grandchildren attend now. “I have a special needs grandson and he goes to the school. They’re great with him. So, I have no complaints about the school,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean there are no complaints. Rigdon isn’t happy about the district’s proposed referendum.

“I don’t need my property taxes raised being a widow. I really can’t, on a fixed income, I can’t afford to pay more property taxes,” she said.

According to Westfield Schools, property taxes for a $200,000 home would go up about $300 a year. That breaks down to about $25 a month. In exchange, the district would improve programs like music, performing arts and STEM.

“Improving the schools, the schools are already pretty nice. I’m talking about middle school and high school because that’s where my kids are now,” said Dewatt Standfield, who is not in support of the referendum.

The district would also renovate and expand its high school, middle school and intermediate school. It defends its proposal by saying most schools are almost at capacity. The middle school, for example, is 36 students shy of reaching maximum capacity.

“You want the academics to be high quality. I want my grandkids to get a good education. I guess it’s a double-edged sword,” said Rigdon.

In order to put a question on the ballot, Westfield must collect 500 signatures from taxpayers and/or residents. Petitions can be found at any school within the district.

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