Stronger Elkhart: Referendum 2021

What is a referendum?
A referendum is a type of election that doesn’t elect people, but rather asks voters to vote “yes” or “no” on questions of policy and/or projects. This referendum question is facing the registered voters living in the Elkhart Community Schools district. Your YES vote will assist the district in reaching its full potential.

When is the vote on the referendum?
Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 is the opportunity to vote Stronger for Elkhart. Residents in the Elkhart Community School District are eligible to vote for the referendum.

What exactly is the 2021 referendum going to support? How will my tax dollars be used?
This referendum will focus on three key areas:

  1.  Increase pay for all employees to ensure competitiveness with neighboring districts, help recruit and retain exceptional employees to provide the educational excellence our community demands and compensation required in a competitive market. A highly qualified and consistent staff creates better outcomes for students and creates a stable, safe and comfortable learning environment. $7,350,000 investment.
  2. Reduce out-of-pocket health insurance costs for ECS employees. Skyrocketing health insurance costs in our country requires the need for ECS to modernize their benefits package to ease the undue burden on employees. All employees (administrators included) will share the same cost of the employee health plan and receive the same benefits. $3,000,000 investment.
  3. Continue to provide safe transportation for our students at current levels. The transportation funding passed in the 2014 Referendum expires this year, so a significant portion of this referendum will be used to keep transportation practices at status quo. $4,900,000 investment.

What will it cost me to vote YES for a Stronger Elkhart? Will my tax rate increase?
This varies from homeowner to homeowner. Depending on the different tax credit and deductions, every situation is different. To learn more, see examples, and to calculate your personal tax impact, please visit Stronger Elkhart: Cost.

What measures has the district already taken to conserve funds?
Elkhart Community Schools has made significant budget cuts that didn’t directly impact instructional programming, totaling $1.9 million over the last three years in savings from cuts and restructuring. Some of the changes the district has made to work within the reduced revenue include:

  • Middle school and high school students who live within one mile from school are now in a “walk zone.”
  • Most elementary students attend school until almost 4:00 p.m. so that buses have time to return from middle and high school routes. Routes are longer, making some student arrive home after 5:00 p.m. Fewer buses on the road saves dollars.
  • Elimination of 57 positions following retirements, resignations, and/or reassignment has saved staffing costs.
  • Annual utility expenses have been reduced by 24% ($2.5 million).
  • Annual technology costs have been reduced by more than 50% ($1.1 million).

Why do schools always seem to need more money?
Like any home or business, ECS faces increasing costs and limited income. Fortunately, ECS has managed its money well, including the reductions listed above. However, state funding formulas have hurt local school districts, in particular our own district more than others around the state. Dollars that used to be given to districts to support students in poverty has been decreased. Additionally, funding levels have not kept up with inflation. Between 2009 and 2018, funding per pupil in Elkhart increased 1.67% or about $101 per student. To keep pace with inflation, funding over that time period should have increased 19-20%, or about $1,200 per student. To keep quality educational opportunities for children, ECS needs to be able to match opportunities provided elsewhere in the state, and many other districts have passed referenda to meet their needs.

I have additional questions. Where can I go for information? 

  • If you would like to contact the district directly with questions about this referendum, please call (574-262-5506) or email ( Susan Ott, Administrative Assistant to Superintendent/Board of School Trustees.


Press Release, January 12, 2021: Elkhart Community Schools Announces Referendum