District Referendums

Indiana school referendums are a mechanism through which local school districts seek voter approval to increase property taxes to fund specific educational initiatives or cover general operating expenses. Indiana school referendums play a crucial role in empowering local communities to make decisions about their education system and funding allocations for their schools.

Carmel Clay Schools is the second lowest-funded district per pupil in the state. Referendums enable the district to secure additional funding beyond what is provided by the state.  

The length of a referendum is currently eight years (seven years prior to 2023). Referendum funds must be used for specific items and cannot be allocated indiscriminately. School districts are required to clearly outline the intended purposes for the additional funding and the state has guidelines in place to ensure accountability in the use of the funds.

Operating Referendum

Student Learning

Property Tax Levy Total (2023): $24M
Including the share of excise tax and other miscellaneous revenue, the Operating Referendum produces $25.3M in total.
Tax Rate: $00.19
Term: 8 Years (2023-2031)

The Operating Referendum covers additional funds needed for student instruction and learning, human resources, utilities, custodial and maintenance. Each year, the district depends on the Operating Referendum as it supplements the Education Fund by more than 17%.

Safety Referendum

Property Tax Levy Total: $5.6M
Tax Rate: $00.05
Term: 7 Years (2020-2027)

From 2019 to 2022 the rate was maintained at only 3.5 cents per $100. Starting in 2023 the full 5-cent rate was implemented following the full staffing and implementation of safety measures.

Safety Referendum Information

1st in the State

In 2019, the Indiana legislature passed SB127, which allows schools to seek local referendums to fund school safety initiatives. Carmel Clay Schools was the first district in the state, and still only one of two communities, to successfully pass a safety referendum. 

The School Safety Referendum allows Carmel Clay Schools to:

  • Fund a unit of 21 School Resource Officers, including at least one in every building (up from seven shared officers prior to the referendum).
  • Partner with Ascension St. Vincent for onsite mental health services. In 2023, an average of 500 students per month were served through the program. 
  • Provide additional funding for Student Services staffing and professional development. 


Safety Referendum breakdown

School Tax Rates

Referendum Totals

Among neighboring districts that have referendums, Carmel Clay Schools has the lowest rate. The total rate for CCS is $00.24 combining the Operating and Safety Referendum totals.

In addition to the low referendum rate, CCS has maintained the lowest school tax rate in the county and one of the lowest in the state.