2014-04-01 / Front Page

Referendum On Ballot May Save Eminence Schools

By: Deb Kelly

A local school official is on a mission to get Adams- Ashland Township residents out on Election Day to vote, hopefully in favor of a referendum that will determine the fate of Eminence Schools.

Eminence Community School Corporation Superintendent Terry Terhune is hoping the referendum will pass, which will allow Eminence Schools to stay open.

The question on the ballot is as follows:

“For the seven calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum, shall Eminence Community School Corporation impose a property tax rate that does not exceed forty cents ($0.40) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to all other property tax levies imposed by the school corporation?”

If the referendum gets enough yes votes, the school corporation can continue for the foreseeable future; however, if the referendum fails, the school can operate for just one more year before having to shut its doors. Consolidation would be the next step. If that happens, Terhune worries that the community of Eminence could suffer.

In other small towns that have lost their schools, small businesses tend to follow suit, closing down for good, he said.

“The school truly is the heart of the community,” Terhune said. “It acts as a community center. We do more than just educate. This is the home of the Little League. We recently held a memorial service here for a member of the community so that friends and family could pay their respects. We’re a center of community goodwill, not just a traditional school.”

Terhune pointed out that the current school tax levy for Eminence is $0.68 per $100.00 of assessed value.

That rate is a good bit less than the rates in neighboring Monrovia (at $1.00 per $100.00 of assessed value) and Cloverdale (at $1.29). If the referendum passes, Terhune said, the school corporation will not ask for the entire $0.40 in the first year. The rate in the first year is expected to be $0.25.

That means that the average homeowner, with a home valued at $108,000, would be paying $4.83 per month. At the full rate, the cost to the average homeowner would be $7.75 per month.

The additional funds will be used to continue operating the school, going primarily toward staff salaries and utilities, as well as the general fund, Terhune said.

If the referendum fails, and the school closes, Adams and Ashland Township residents would still see a tax increase. They would be assessed the tax rate of whatever school district they’ve been absorbed into, as well as the tax created by debt left over from construction loans for the current building housing the elementary school, which was built in 2001.

Terhune says the reason for the financial shortfall is declining enrollment, which affects the amount of money the school gets from the state.

“The challenge is that we are graduating about twice as many are coming into kindergarten,” Terhune said. “In past years, the school has experienced waves in enrollment, sometimes with enrollments up and sometimes down. It is down now, but we hope that will turn in a few years.”

“We have made as many cuts as we think are possible without sacrificing quality,” he added. “This school provides the kids with a personal education. The teachers know the kids really well. You essentially get a private education in a public school.”

Terhune said he will be meeting with small groups of citizens in the coming weeks to help explain the referendum and answer any questions anyone may have.

If you are interested in learning more, or in setting up a meeting for a local group, you can contact Mr. Terhune at 765-528-2101.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2014-04-01 digital edition