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FRANKLIN, Ind. — Homeowners in the Franklin Community School district will soon choose whether to approve extra funds for teacher pay and mental health needs. 

The district is requesting $0.23 for every $100 for a property’s assessed value for eight years. It would bring in about $3.5 million per year. 

The cost will depend on your home’s assessed value. The average home is valued at $128,000 and that would cost the homeowner $114 per year. 

Beyond increasing teacher pay and mental health needs, the funds would go to academic programs, school safety improvements, keeping classroom sizes smaller and to help balance the budget in years to come. 

John Wales is volunteering with the PAC Friends of Franklin Community Schools, which supports the referendum. He said his kids are out of the school system but he sees the benefits.

“My house is assessed at $163,100 I believe. It’s going to cost me $14 a month. That’s less than $0.50 a day is what this is going to cost me,” he said.

Wales said the key to a successful community is a strong school district. 

The district said the reason for needing to increase teacher pay is due to the starting salaries at school districts all around central Indiana. At the metro-Indianapolis school districts, FCS ranked 30 out of 36, according to FCS Superintendent David Clendening. 

The salary is $37,000. The district has a listing of some of the comparable starting salaries here. 

Then there’s a plan to make more mental health options available for students. Right now. the district has a program where you have to qualify based on your family’s income. Clendening said if the referendum passes, it would expand so all students can get the help they could need. 

“I don’t think there’s enough focus on that in the school system,” said Casey Griner, an FCS parent. 

The district said if the referendum does not pass on Tuesday, class sizes, right now up to 25 students, could increase. There would also be cuts to the district.

Clendening said FCS has suffered from funding caps from the state, losing tens of millions of dollars over the years. He said the district could have a significant budget shortfall in years ahead. 

He said specific cuts have not been decided, but contingency plans are in the works if the referendum fails.