Superintendent of New Albany-Floyd County schools hopeful voters choose to raise property taxes

Voters to decide whether to raise property taxes in Floyd Co. for school safety improvements

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) – Voters will decide in May whether to raise property taxes in Floyd County to improve school safety.

The New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation Board of Trustees set that in motion Monday night, voting unanimously to put the referendum on the ballot.

All seven members of the Board of School Trustees voted in favor of the resolution.

Nobody from the public spoke against the measure, which board trustees began crafting seven months ago.

School officials said the funds would pay for facility improvements, like additional cameras and fences.

The rest would cover staffing, including in the area of mental health services.

"As a homeowner, my support is a resounding yes," Terri Coffey, a parent, said. "For a very small investment, I'm building a healthier and safer community where my largest financial investment lies."​

Coffey, who is also a realtor, said the cost for the median homeowner in Floyd County would come out to under $4 a month.

Superintendent Brad Snyder spoke about the referendum Tuesday.

“There are no easy answers,” Snyder said. “We believe our schools are safe, but with extra help, we believe we can do more and be safer.”

Snyder said he hopes voters will approve it when they head to the polls on May 5.

School officials said the board can no longer act as an advocate for the tax increase, per state law. So, Misty Ronau, who has been tasked with leading the Safety for Our Schools Floyd County PAC, will do that through the political action committee. She launched a website focused on that this week.

The New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation Board of Trustees voted unanimously to put a referendum on the May 2020 ballot to raise property taxes in Floyd County to improve school safety.
The New Albany Floyd County Consolidated School Corporation Board of Trustees voted unanimously to put a referendum on the May 2020 ballot to raise property taxes in Floyd County to improve school safety. (Source: Jasper Garratt)

"Schools are the backbone of our community," Ronau said. "When they ask for help, you have to respond."​

School officials said the money raised would pay for facility improvements, like additional cameras and fences.

The rest would cover staffing, including in the area of mental health services. ​

"We just lost a New Albany High School student," Lee Ann Wiseheart, a trustee said, noting the importance of school counselors. "Thank God, we have counselors at school to help all the other students and staff that are grieving."

Board President Elaine Murphy said Monday’s vote is about preventing tragedy in schools. That's something she said was on the top of her mind through her final days as a former elementary school principal. ​

“I walked out of the building, and I looked up at the sky, and I said, ‘Thank you, God,’ because, in my 30 years, I hadn’t lost a student,” Murphy said.

Murphy said she wants to walk away from her job on the board of school trustees feeling she's done all she can to keep students safe.

However, the decision is now in the hands of the voting public. Some supporters told WAVE 3 News their biggest challenge will be convincing the 60 percent of county residents who don't have children or grandchildren in the schools to vote 'yes' on Election Day.

"It's not parents, grandparents, teachers, school administrators that are going to make this decision," Ronau said. "It's every voter that comes to the polls." ​

If approved in May, the referendum would last eight years.

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