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Voters reject Brownsburg, Pike school referendums, OK them in Frankfort, Warsaw, Marion County

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BROWNSBURG, Indiana — School superintendents in southwestern Indiana and an Indianapolis suburb explored their options Wednesday after voters rejected tax increases in their districts.

Referendums in at least five other districts across the state won approval in Tuesday's primaries as school funding proposals met mixed results from voters.

More than 52 percent of Brownsburg voters rejected two separate proposals Tuesday that would have funded a new elementary school and improvements to a high school. Superintendent Jim Snapp says the Indianapolis suburb is experiencing the second-highest growth among Indiana districts and must address its rising enrollment at some point. Indiana Department of Education data show the district grew more than 23 percent over the past decade.

"We have to work harder on getting our story out and letting people make their decisions on accurate information," Snapp said. "Clearly, we didn't do that this time, and we have some work to do."

In southwestern Indiana, Pike County School Superintendent Suzanne Blake said she's she'll have to make "some very deep cuts" after 68 percent of voters defeated a tax increase that was estimated to raise about $2.3 million annually for five years.

State funding changes have contributed to a district deficit that has been covered the last few years by a rainy day fund and bank loans, Blake said.

Other referendums won voter approval.

Voters in Frankfort approved a referendum to raise $30 million for school improvements by a nearly 2-1 margin. Frankfort High School has not had major renovations since it was built in 1962, Superintendent Don DeWeese said.

"We've worked on this for two years now, and we've brought the community along with us. ... We demonstrated need," DeWeese said.

In Warsaw, more than 62 percent of voters supported a $39.9 million measure to build a new elementary school and make improvements to two other schools.

"We believe there's a lot of support for our school system," Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent David Hoffert said. "... When we talk about our kids' future and our students and what that entails, we believe there's strong support and encouragement there."

Voters in three districts in Marion County also approved referendums. They include the Perry Township Schools, which will use $50 million to build 89 new classrooms for elementary students, and the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, which will raise $66.5 million over seven years for day-to-day operations.

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