Frequently Asked Questions

Growing to Meet the Future FAQ

What is the referendum for?

What will it cost me?

What will happen if it passes, or if it doesn’t?

Ballot question FAQ’s

Enrollment growth

Facilities challenges

Facilities updates completed or in-progress

Property tax comparisons to neighbors

Miscellaneous

Additional questions?


What is the referendum for?

The Board of Education voted unanimously to ask voters for an increase in property taxes to fund long-term facilities maintenance and improvements at Franklin Central High School and additional, smaller-scale improvements to the District’s elementary schools. This request is made in the form of a referendum ballot question that is on the May 3, 2022 Primary Election ballot.

What would it cost me?

If voters approve the referendum, property owners would be assessed a property tax increase beginning in 2023 of $0.2099 per $100 of net assessed value. This would generate about $95 million, enough to finance needed expansions and upgrades at Franklin Central and needed upgrades at the district’s elementary schools. This would be the lowest currently active referendum of any Marion County school district. 

What would the actual dollars-and-cents effect of the referendum be on homeowners’ property tax bills?

For a home with the Marion County median value of $185,700, the monthly cost would be $15.47. Median value means that half of all homes in the county have a higher value and half have a lower value.

For a home with the Marion County mean value of $211,800, the monthly cost would be $18.44. The mean value is calculated by adding the value of all Marion County homes and dividing by the number of homes.

Are there other important details concerning the cost of the referendum?

Yes, ballot language required by the Indiana General Assembly can be confusing. Please see additional details about the ballot question under “Ballot Question FAQ” elsewhere on this page.

What will happen if the referendum is approved, or is not approved?

If voters approve the referendum, FTCSC would begin a several-year process to make long-term facilities maintenance and improvements at Franklin Central High School and additional, smaller-scale improvements to the District’s elementary schools. Work would:

  • Add capacity to Franklin Central H.S. to handle unprecedented and ongoing enrollment growth
  • Renovate the 1970s -era high school to replace core systems – heating, cooling, roofing, plumbing, mechanical
  • Improve academic education environments to better reflect problem solving and teamwork found in the workplace
  • Provide long-term maintenance updates to all District elementary schools

If the referendum is not approved, the enrollment and aging facilities challenges FTCSC faces will not go away. It is most likely that future School Boards would choose to continue to go to referendum to seek voter approval of a property tax increase to pay for updated facilities. Costs will be higher due to inflation and higher interest rates. While we wait, further accommodations will have to be made to address enrollment growth. Soon, class sizes will increase as enrollment reaches levels higher than the capacity of the buildings.

Ballot Question FAQ

What, exactly, is the ballot question? 

“Shall Franklin Township Community School Corporation increase property taxes paid to the school corporation by homeowners and businesses? If this public question is approved by the voters, the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a residence would increase by 24.4% and the average property tax paid to the school corporation per year on a business property would increase by 16%. The political subdivision may issue bonds or enter into a lease to complete the 2022 Safety, Security, Capacity and Improvement Project, consisting of the renovation and expansion of Franklin Central High School, maintenance and repairs to school facilities including site improvements, and the purchase of equipment and technology, which is estimated to cost $98,485,000 over 22 years. The most recent property tax referendum within the boundaries of the political subdivision for which this public question is being considered was proposed by Franklin Township Community School Corporation in 2011 and failed.”

Does this mean that my home property tax bill would increase by 24.4 percent?

No. It does not. The Indiana state legislature mandates this specific ballot language, but the language – especially the percentage cited – substantially overstates the impact of a “yes” vote on both business and homeowner property taxes. For most homeowners, the actual impact on the overall property tax bill would range between 10 and 11 percent.

Why would the actual increase be lower than stated on the ballot question?

For several reasons. For one, the 24.4 percent applies only to the school corporation portion of a property tax bill and not to the property tax bill in its entirety, which includes other taxing units.

Are there other factors that make the ballot language inaccurate or incomplete?

Yes; several other factors. For one, the ballot language does not take into account the standard homestead deduction, which decreases the taxable value of any home. The standard homestead deduction is either 60% of your property’s assessed value or a maximum of $45,000, whichever is less. 

What other factors go into a lower increase?

The ballot language does not take into account an Indiana property tax replacement credit, a deduction of up to $2,500 of the Indiana property taxes paid on a resident’s principal place of residence. 

Are there other factors for some individuals?

Yes. For instance, the ballot language also does not take into account any supplemental tax reductions – such as mortgage deductions or over-65 or Disabled Veteran or Surviving Spouse deductions – which further decreases the taxable value of some homes.

What would the actual dollars-and-cents effect of the referendum be on homeowners’ property tax bills?

For a home with the Marion County median value of $185,700, the monthly cost would be $15.47. Median value means that half of all homes in the county have a higher value and half have a lower value.

For a home with the Marion County mean value of $211,800, the monthly cost would be $18.44. The mean value is calculated by adding the value of all Marion County homes and dividing by the number of homes.

Didn’t referendum questions at one time include rates rather than percentages?

Yes. In this case, the Board is asking voters to approve a property tax increase of $0.2099 per $100 of net assessed value, which would be the lowest referendum of any Marion County school district that currently has a referendum. To date, FTCSC is the only district within the county that has not received referendum revenue.

Enrollment Growth

What does “Growing to Meet the Future” mean?

Franklin Township Community School Corporation is experiencing unprecedented and ongoing enrollment growth. “Growing to Meet the Future” means expanding, repairing and updating schools to accommodate new enrollment, support FTCSC’s long record of academic excellence and extend the life of our school buildings, which are invaluable community assets. And to do so in a fiscally responsible way, in keeping with the District’s record of strong financial stewardship.

The school district often refers to population and enrollment growth. How much has the population within FTCSC grown?

New 2020 Census numbers show that the FTCSC population grew from 52,939 in 2010 to 64,479 in 2020, which follows a decade of substantial growth from 2000 to 2010.

How much has FTCSC enrollment grown?

Enrollment has increased by more than 3,660 students since May of 2006 and by more than 1,800 in the past five years alone.  FTCSC was the only Marion County district to see an enrollment increase during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional details may be found in this video.

How does recent enrollment growth compare with the district’s expectations?

When FTCSC’s enrollment growth of almost 500 students for the 2021-22 school put the district three years ahead of the increases projected by a 2018 demographic study by Indiana University’s Kelley Business School, the District commissioned a new demographic study, conducted in the fall of 2021. This study, by McKibben Demographic Research, LLC, forecasts total district enrollment to increase by 1,367 students, or 12.6%, between 2021-22 and 2026-27. Total enrollment will increase another 681 students, or 5.6%, from 2026- 27 to 2031-32. This following an enrollment growth of more than 3,660 students since 2006 and by more than 1,800 in the past five years alone.

Hasn’t the school district already taken steps to increase school capacities and accommodate enrollment growth?

Yes. Besides the Junior High addition and Kitley Intermediate work described elsewhere in the FAQ, FTCSC has taken steps to make the most of existing building capacities. Most importantly, the district reconfigured buildings in an effort to maximize space for several more years. The decision was made to change the grade configuration from seven K-5, two 6-8, and one 9-12 buildings to six K-3, two 4-6, one 7-8, and one 9-12 building. This configuration change has produced many academic, transportation, safety and logistical benefits as well. 

If reconfiguration was successful, why is more space necessary?

Reconfiguration bought time for FTCSC to plan additional facility upgrades and expansions. Reconfiguration does NOT mean, however, that the enrollment/space challenges have been permanently resolved. In fact, while reconfiguration temporarily reduced the number of schools over 90% capacity from six to two, our most recent enrollment surge has increased the number of schools over 90 percent capacity to five.

How will the District know when it has enough space?

Demographic projections indicate that the school corporation needs enough space to educate 1,000 to 1,100 students per grade level while maintaining established academic quality and overall school corporation excellence.

Can the school district take action or exert its authority to postpone or deny some of the housing start requests that are fueling rapid enrollment growth?

No. School districts have no role in zoning or housing approval decisions. FTCSC has been proactive and sought to keep the community and local governmental officials informed about the projected effects of new housing developments as they were proposed. At the same time, FTCSC does not have a voting membership on the local redevelopment commissions to provide information and make sure the school district’s viewpoint is heard. Franklin Township Community School Corporation has absolutely no jurisdiction in any decisions of land use, housing starts, zoning, etc. FTCSC cannot slow growth. Our role is to serve students who live here, not to govern who lives here or how many new homes are built.

Can the district eliminate open enrollment and slow the growth by declining enrollment requests from families living in other districts?

FTCSC has chosen to not allow open-enrollment into the district. In order to attend FTCSC schools, students must live within Franklin Township boundaries.

Facilities Challenges

Franklin Central High School looks good from the outside. How and why does it require so much work?

Franklin Central, like all of the District’s schools, does look good from the outside. Our maintenance and building and grounds crews do excellent work. But the school’s original core is almost 50 years old. Its infrastructure – electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling and roofing – needs the same kind of replacements and upgrades that any 50-year-old house would need, only on a much larger scale.

In addition, the high school needs replacement of ceiling and floor tiles, carpeting, fixtures and furniture that are worn, broken or simply have exceeded their useful life.

Are all of the high school’s facilities challenges related to the building’s age?

No. Additional space is needed to to serve students who benefit from an increasing number of options to better prepare them for their future. For instance, Franklin Central has added 28 new courses or opportunities built around 13 Career Pathways in the last two years alone. Approaches to learning have changed since the high school was built, and reconfiguring some of the high school’s space would better serve contemporary learning opportunities – especially involving collaboration and projects.

Additional information on the work needed at the high school may be seen in this video

What additional work needs to be done?

Detailed engineering studies conducted by Skillman, a highly reputable firm, have identified more than $100 million dollars in facility needs and repairs necessary within the next 15 years. The majority of this work is needed at the high school. Keep in mind that this dollar amount addresses current facilities and not the need for additional facilities due to student growth.

Work is required at Franklin Central to expand its capacity to 4,500 students and to replace mechanical, electrical, plumbing and roofing systems. All Franklin Central work combined will cost approximately $87 million. Some spaces within FCHS would also be reconfigured – to more logically organize departments and create collaborative spaces conducive to contemporary learning. In addition, needed improvements to our six elementary schools will cost an estimated $5.4 million.

Most elementary schools are not as old as Franklin Central. What work do they need?

The Skillman study identifies several needs, which vary from school to school, but include such items as painting, replacing carpeting and other flooring, casework, painting, updating HVAC controls, installing more efficient chillers to replace old and inefficient units and, in one instance, installing fencing for a more secure playground area.

Facilities updates completed or in-progress

Hasn’t the school district already done construction work to increase school capacities and accommodate enrollment growth?

Yes. In September 2021, FTCSC had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for additions to Franklin Central Junior High. The District will be expanding Kitley Intermediate School, adding 12 classrooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, computer science lab and boosting the school’s capacity to 1,500 students. This will be completed for the 2023-24 school year. The District was able to finance this work using existing financial resources.

Is there additional work that can be done without a tax increase?

Yes. Franklin Township’s rapid housing expansion has increased overall Assessed Valuation, which provides FTCSC with enough new revenue to plan two additional projects that can be financed under the tax cap: 1) Expanding Edgewood Intermediate with a plan similar to the work underway at Kitley Intermediate, at a cost of about $13.5 million. 2) Building a new elementary school to serve the District’s northeast area, at a cost of $30 million to $35 million.

Won’t the revenue generated by the township’s growing Assessed Valuation pay for these projects?

No. The scope and cost of these projects is substantially more than the revenue being generated by Franklin Township’s increasing Assessed Valuation.

Property tax comparisons to neighbors

Aren’t taxes already high in Franklin Township?

None of us likes paying higher taxes, but facts no longer support the outdated notion that FTCSC is a high-tax district. The challenges posed by burgeoning enrollment are compounded by the fact that FTCSC is in fact the lowest spending school district in Marion County as measured by per-pupil spending.

How can FTCSC be the county’s lowest spending school since some other districts have lower tax rates?

Homesteads are capped at 1% of assessed value and the majority of homes are at the tax cap. Because the total tax rate is combined with the City/County rates and other governmental units, all of the rates in Marion County are over $2 and pushing $3 in most cases. This causes homes to hit the 1% tax cap. Property owners in all of the other school districts in Marion County will be paying or have paid a referendum rate in addition to their 1% property tax cap. Because FTCSC does not have a referendum rate, the property tax bills are lower for homes in FTCSC than of similarly valued homes elsewhere in Marion County. The Circuit Breaker Tax Cap, while beneficial to home and business owners, has resulted in $121,406,429 in credits for FTCSC that have not been billed over the past 12 years.

So, literally every other Marion County school district has received referendum revenue?

ALL school corporations in Marion County have received referenda revenue with the exception of FTCSC, allowing the likes of Warren Township, Perry Township, Indianapolis Public Schools, Beech Grove, Pike Township, Wayne Township, Washington Township, Lawrence Township and others to build facilities to address growth.

Miscellaneous

FTCSC tells us that it has exercised sound financial management and stewardship of tax revenue. What are some examples?

Franklin Township Community School Corporation continues to exercise prudent fiscal management to make the most of available resources. 

The corporation’s savvy debt management (strategic refinancing), tax rate reduction (21% since 2017), and other research and planning has yielded clean external audits and one of the highest credit ratings (AA-) of all Indiana school districts. FTCSC has operated a balanced budget for five consecutive years.

FTCSC is always looking for cost savings. One recent example: Franklin Township residents will benefit from a substantial tax reduction, due to a timely re-funding of a bond issue by FTCSC in 2020.  With the Federal Reserve’s reduction of interest rates in response to COVID-19, school officials saw and utilized an opportunity to refinance $64.8 million in bonds, reducing its debt service by $9,673,464 over the next 13 years, which represents a direct tax savings.

What process has the District followed to reach this point?

In addition to the engineering and demographic studies mentioned here, the District has been meeting with staff and community members to receive feedback on the proposed plan. The District also has communicated about the challenges currently faced through postcards to all township residents. FTCSC will continue to update the public through this website, direct mail and its public meetings. 

Why must the work identified in engineering studies be done now? 

These structural upgrades and improvements, along with additional space for a growing enrollment, are needs that will persist. A delay in addressing them will not make the needs disappear but will result in more costly solutions  later because of inflation and substantial increases in construction and material costs, which have been exacerbated by supply chain issues. 

How does Franklin Township Community School Corporation compare and contrast to other central Indiana districts academically?

FTCSC has a state accountability grade of A and is above state averages on graduation rate and rigor. Niche Best High Schools and US News currently rank Franklin Central High School as #2 in Marion County for traditional public high schools, and US News places FCHS among the top 15% nationally. FTCSC’s 3rd grade students scored higher on 2021 IRead assessments than any other Marion County district. Franklin Central ranks among Indiana’s top 20 high schools in graduating college-ready students.

Why must homeowners or business owners who do not have children or no longer have children in school share the cost of this work? 

More than just school buildings, Franklin Township Community School Corporation’s 10 schools represent a valuable community asset that must be maintained and right-sized to serve incoming students just as they have served previous student generations. Strong schools strengthen a community and protect property values for everyone.

We have striven and been successful in meeting our commitments to the community – offering nationally competitive educational opportunities for students as cost-effectively as possible, protecting class sizes and property values. FTCSC is among the top performing school districts in Indiana. An investment now keeps our schools competitive, and strong schools equal strong property values.

What does the 2011 referendum have to do with this referendum?

There is no connection. This, too, is ballot language mandated by state legislators.

 Have outside organizations reviewed FTCSC budget and spending?

Yes, in addition to four straight years of a balanced budget, FTCSC has been audited, and not only were their audit reports clean, but FTCSC was also commended on their financials. In fact, FTCSC’s credit rating has been increased to AA-, one of the highest in the state, due to reviews of how FTCSC budgets and spends its money.

How does FTCSC’s administrative spending compare to other school districts?

FTCSC spends the least amount of its per-pupil funding on administrators in comparison to every school district in Marion County and the Hoosier Crossroads Conference. 

Additional questions?

Please direct questions and comments to Dr. Kent Pettet, FTCSC Chief Communications and Public Relations Officer: kent.pettet@ftcsc.org or 317.803.5074

(This article updated 4/19/22)