MONTGOMERY — A number of races are on the primary ballot next week but one of the biggest decisions coming out of the June 2 election in Daviess County involves Barr-Reeve Community Schools.
Barr-Reeve has a referendum on the ballot that could impact the way the school corporation handles its finances for the next eight years. The question asks the public to support an up to 25 cents per $100 assessed property valuation tax to assist in the day-to-day operations of the school system.
“This will replace the 35 cent tax that we have had in place for the last seven years,” said Barr-Reeve Superintendent Dr. Travis Madison. “That levy is coming off and we are looking to lighten the load with a lesser tax.”
Barr-Reeve is asking for the tax to remain in place over the next eight years.
“We are no longer allowed to have special elections for referendums so by having it run for eight years, we can keep it within the election cycle. Actually, our goal is that after this cycle that we will not need to ask for another referendum again.”
Most school funding for instruction comes from the state of Indiana. But the state tuition support for Barr-Reeve is among the lowest in the state.
“This has given us some flexibility in funding,” said Madison. “When unforeseen things come along this gives us some financial ability to deal with it. We only intend to use what we need. That is what we did under the previous levy. We feel 25 cents is fair for the school and our taxpayers.”
Barr-Reeve officials point out that the money from the referendum will not go toward the building project. Funding for that has already been secured.
“We are going to use this money to do what we have done before,” said Madison. “It will go toward lowering class sizes, paying for our extra-curricular coaches and sponsors and our school resource officer.”
Barr-Reeve officials had hoped to take their plans for the additional levy to the public, but the coronavirus pandemic got in the way. They were only able to hold one general meeting before restrictions were put on shutting down large gatherings.
“The last time we were able to go to community meetings and talk directly to people,” said Madison. “This time we have not been able to do that. We have been reaching out virtually and trying to answer any questions. Last time I had a good feel on how people would vote. This time we don’t have a clue. We aren’t getting much feedback from the community.”
Madison says his hope is that the community has seen the success the schools have had over the last seven years and will use that as a measuring stick to support the referendum again.
“I hope that now that they are familiar with the process that they will continue with the levy,” said Madison. “Even with the building project and the special levy, tax rates for the Barr-Reeve schools are still going down. I hope they see the return on their investment in the school because the kids are excelling and it is a stable force in the community. I just hope folks see the benefit that the school provides.”
Heading into Tuesday’s vote Madison says he is hopeful that the public will embrace the referendum one more time.
“Because we have heard so little feedback, I’m a little uneasy,” said Madison. “That said I am cautiously optimistic it will pass and we will be able to continue to do the good things we have been able to accomplish with the previous levy.”
The referendum is on the ballot in Barr 1, Barr 2, and Reeve precincts.