LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A number of Clark County voters will be part of something unprecedented in Tuesday’s Indiana Primary: a possible ‘district divorce’ that has never happened in the state before.
Voters will be deciding whether to split West Clark Community Schools into two districts named Silver Creek and Borden-Henryville.
West Clark School Board leaders said tensions came to a head after a 2017 referendum to provide $95 million to Silver Creek for school improvements failed at the ballot. Voters from precincts in Borden and Henryville overwhelmingly voted ‘no,’ and Silver Creek schools then called for a split.
A new referendum will be decided on Tuesday to decide whether the district and its taxing powers should split.
Board member Brian Guernsey is for that. He said irreconcilable differences between the two make it critical.
"It will give local control to all three communities for their tax money, their resources," Guernsey said. "Then, each community can do with it what they see fit."
In 2017, the school board voted unanimously to move forward with succession. Two years later, the Indiana State Board of Education approved the measure to be put before voters 10-1.
While each proposed district budget was approved by the state, the plan drew concern from some about the financial feasibility of a split, especially on Borden-Henryville in tough budgetary times.
"With the financial criticisms, we ran it through Department of Local Government and Finance," Guernsey said. "They gave us their blessing. They had it for about 8 months and reviewed it. It did go before the State Board of Education and it was a 10-1 vote. So, that's a pretty big deal to get a 10-1 vote out of the SBOE."
The lone dissenting SBOE member, in part, raised issue with the impact a split would have on student learning experiences.
"If there are low enrolled classes, that are bringing three districts together, would support that course being offered across those districts," David Freitas, a board member, said. "That's an academic benefit to those schools and by pulling them apart, is it possible that some of these low enrolled courses will not be available."
Some district residents have spoken out against the split, but Guernsey said he believes it will be the most positive thing all three communities have had happen for a while.
The Indiana Primary will be on June 2. Voters can learn more about the referendum here.