Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why is having a good school system important?
Good schools attract new businesses and new people to a community. They help retain businesses by providing a highly-skilled and well-educated workforce. And this makes our Mishawaka school system one of the smartest investments we can make toward the economic health of our city and everyone who lives here.
2. Why should I vote Yes twice for Mishawaka Schools if I don’t have children in the school system?
Simply put, your property values are at stake. A good school system increases property values. A bad school system, or the lack of a school system does the opposite.
People want the best schools for their children and will pay more to live in a community where the schools have a good reputation. Look to the eastside of St. Joseph County if you have any doubts. They avoid communities that have schools with a poor reputation. Just ask a realtor.
3. What has School City of Mishawaka done to save money, increase revenue and live within their budget before asking the community for money?
For the past several years, school leadership has worked very hard to reduce costs for the school system and taxpayers while at the same time bringing more money into the school system. School leadership has refinanced two bond debts beginning in May 2015 and saved taxpayers approximately $2.9 million over the term of those two loans. Later this year, another bond will be refinanced and the savings to taxpayers is projected to be approximately $0.8 million. These taxpayer savings also help the school system by reducing projected funding losses in the next decade. In 2020, St. Joseph County will no longer have an exempt Debt Service Fund but have taxpayer caps of 1, 2, and 3% for all taxpayer supported funds.
The school corporation, by recruiting new students from outside the School City of Mishawaka, did receive more than $0.6 million additional state support for their operating funds in 2015-2016 budget years. These additional funds made it possible for a modest increase in salary for teachers and support staff. Unfortunately, these resources from the state did not assist with funding updated technology hardware and software for students or the many school infrastructure improvements and student safety needs of our schools.
The current school leadership re-negotiated each contracted service with vendor renewal. An example was hiring a consultant to assist with a request for proposal for Property and Casualty Insurance. Four companies submitted proposals and through this process the school corporation’s renewal for the same level of coverage decreased from a premium of $520,612 to a renewal of $367,422. The consultant’s fee was $12,000 so the overall savings was $141,190. All insurance policies (health, dental, vision and life insurance) are being evaluated with a consultant to ensure savings.
We need to make the kind of investment in safety and programming for our Mishawaka children that cost-cutting simply cannot do on it’s own.
4. Can't the money come from somewhere else?
No. Funding for Indiana schools has dramatically changed in two ways: First, the state funds schools through a voucher system. This means school funding is dependent on enrollment. Secondly, property tax caps became law in 2008 and with the recession, property assessments have not risen. This decrease in revenue makes it more difficult to fund expenses and repairs.
5. Why are there 2 referendum questions on the ballot?
The money we need for safety and security and infrastructure improvements in our buildings will be funded for 15 years while the money we need for our operating and technology improvements will be funded for only 7 years.
It’s important that both referenda receive a vote of “yes” at the November election so that we can level the playing field for our Mishawaka children compared to the advantages that other nearby school systems have
6. What happens if both of the proposed referenda are voted down?
If both referenda are voted down by the community, the school board will need to take a serious look at how we operate our facilities and how many we will be able to support. And simply put, we won’t be able to provide the technology that our children need to compete in school, college, or on the job. Our successful recruitment of new students will also suffer which will reduce our revenue ever further.
7. How will the referenda money be used?
By increasing safety and security measures in every school.
By upgrading technology for students, adjusting student class sizes and making employee compensation market competitive.
By making necessary infrastructure repairs in every school.
8. Who pays the referenda tax?
School City of Mishawaka property owners as part of their yearly property taxes.
9. How much will it cost me?
If voters approve both referenda, a taxpayer with a home assessed value of $100,000 dollars will pay $54.95 for 15 years for the capital request and for the operating levy will pay $79.71 for 7 years. Both figures are before deductions and exemptions are calculated.
10. How long will taxpayers be impacted by the referenda?
If passed by the voters the Operating levy will be for 7 years (2017-2023) and the Capital request will be for 15 years (2018-2032).
11. Is there another way to fund these projects?
We have no other way to fund these repairs and improvements. State tax funding for local schools has changed dramatically.
12. Who in our community supports the referenda?
Many of the people who voted against the referendum three years ago are actively supporting these two referenda. Why?
As we mentioned before, this is a community plan, not a plan created by the school administration. It was produced in the light of day through lots of hard work with hundreds of Mishawaka citizens, including parents, teachers and well known leaders to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together on behalf of our children and our city.
The result is overall agreement that we have a very good school system worth this investment. And right now, we can best support this great city by investing in our Mishawaka schools.
Please refer to the Who We Are page on this website to see just a few of the key leaders who believe in this referendum. It’s an impressive list.