Ministers pledge support for Gary school referendum

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BAPTIST MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE members participating in a recent “Praise in The Park” event have also committed their support of a referendum that will provide more school funding to the Gary Community Schools and teachers. Pictured from left to right are pastors Dwight Mobley, Chet Johnson, Marion Johnson, Dwight Gardner, Corey Jackson, Jerry Protho and Dr. Chester Jones.

Contributed by The 411 News

The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Gary & Vicinity officially pledged its support of the Gary Community School Corporation’s referendum Sunday during their “Praise in the Park” Service at Froebel Park, located at 1500 Madison St.

Upon the school district’s announcement to pursue the referendum designed to award teacher raises and help balance the budget, the group met with the administration to discuss ways to increase the impact and amount of the initiative.

In November, Gary voters will be asked to approve a $48 million property tax increase over an eight-year period to increase operating revenues for Gary schools. In 2015, Gary voters rejected a similar referendum.

If MGT chooses, charter schools will be allowed a share of the anticipated $6 million dollars a year in increased revenues. New language applied in the 2020 Indiana Legislature gave the host school district that option. Charter schools cannot call a referendum.

In Indiana, referendums to increase property taxes for schools can help pay for teacher salaries, building and renovating schools, and day-to-day operations.

“I just wanted to take a moment to thank the ministers for their endorsement and support of the upcoming referendum,” said GCSC Emergency Manager Dr. Paige McNulty. “I also want to thank them for reaching out to me collaboratively to discuss modifications to the dollar amount of the referendum. The Gary schools are definitely on the rise and with the help of the community the passing of this referendum will help get us over the finish line.”

With the updated numbers, the referendum would raise approximately $8.9 million dollars over the next eight years. On average, the tax increase on the average homestead is .20 cents a day and .55 cents a day to businesses, added McNulty.

“We applaud the school corporation on taking steps to end the state takeover,” said Pastor Corey Jackson, president of the ministers’ conference. “Upon further exploration, we suggested a greater amount of funds be secured from the referendum to ensure that our district has additional funds to effect real change for our children once the budget is balanced and the raises are awarded.”

In addition to awarding student scholarships, Baptist Ministers’ Conference representatives shared plans of their support during the worship event. District officials, union members and other community supporters were also in attendance for the announcement.

State Representative Dr. Vernon Smith outlined details of the referendum while urging residents to get behind the initiative.

McNulty indicated that regular updates about the referendum will be posted online along with community forums being held to ensure transparency and that citizens fully understand the impact and benefits of the referendum.

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