Improving school safety in NAFC schools could mean a tax increase

Improving school safety in NAFC schools could mean a tax increase

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) – One area school district wants to make your child’s school a safer place, but it would cost you more on your taxes.

Indiana lawmakers passed a law in the spring allowing districts to pass a referendum to fund school safety improvements. Now, the New Albany-Floyd County School District wants to do just that.

“The more we can do to prevent and help, the better off we all are,” said Dr. Brad Snyder, New Albany Floyd County School District Superintendent.

Snyder said he’s hopeful community members will be willing to pay more on property taxes in order to allow the district to step up safety in their schools.

“If that’s what it went for, yeah I think my family and I would be all on board for that,” Blu Turner said.

The district would consider a 5- to 10-cent per $100 assessed value tax to pay for it. For a $100,000 dollar home, that would mean an additional $17 to $33 each year. And it wouldn’t be permanent; the tax increase would expire after eight years.

“$17 or $30? No biggie,” said Billy Edelen, who is preparing to buy a home in Floyd County.

Depending on the rate chosen, it could bring in between $1.7 million and $3.3 million a year.

While part of the referendum money would go toward improving school facilities, like adding cameras or even fences to make schools safer, other chunks of that money would go toward adding school staff, including mental health service professionals. The district currently has grant funding for 14 therapists in 16 schools. Snyder said they’d like those positions to become permanent, while adding counselors and social workers to better help students struggling with issues that could become dangerous.

“It’s generally the individual, not the collective, that causes problems like this. And so the more services that we can provide around the individual, the more hope there is,” Snyder said.

That’s something some taxpayers support.

“Yes and I think implementing a lot more mindfulness programs in the schools,” Edelen said.

The district wants to talk with community members about the referendum, planning to host meetings and focus groups in the fall. They won’t move forward without support from taxpayers but Snyder said if people are positive, they’ll ask voters to approve this on the ballot in May.

Just three years after voters approved a heftier referendum to improve the school facilities, Snyder said he knows it’s a big ask but hopes people see the value in supporting safety.

“This is not something I relish or want to do,” Snyder said. “It’s just something I think is the right thing for kids and the right thing for our community to debate and discuss.”

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