Local Parents Inform Residents About November Voting For Zionsville Community Schools Referendums
Photographer / Michael Durr
Zionsville residents have an important vote coming up on the ballot in November, and a group of Zionsville parents are doing all they can to inform the community about it.
Mary Reid and Mike Copher are leading the charge for Zionsville Yes! in support of the two school referendums up for vote this November. Both Reid and Copher, along with a group of local parents, are strongly encouraging Zionsville residents to vote yes for the referendum — especially ZCS parents.
Both Reid and Copher remember the failed referendum of 2010 and the immediate, negative impact it had on, not only parents, students, teachers and Zionsville Community Schools as a whole, but homeowners as well.
“In 2009, we moved here, and we chose our home in Zionsville specifically for the school district,” Reid says. “I felt compelled to get involved because it was an immediate problem for us.”
“I grew up in the area and moved back later,” Copher adds. “When the 2010 referendum failed, I think it was a surprise to a lot of people. I don’t think people necessarily believed what the school administration said they would have to do (if it didn’t pass) — cutting 150 teachers and cutting major programming. People thought the money would be able to come from elsewhere, and that wasn’t the case.”
After seeing the impact of the 2010 referendum not getting passed, in 2012, Reid and Copher, along with a group of other concerned residents, organized Zionsville Yes! — a campaign in support of the ZCS referendum. The parent-led, parent-operated organization is focused solely on supporting the referendum and informing all Zionsville residents about why they should vote “Yes” come November.
“We, as a group of parents, work together to get the word out and encourage people to vote,” Reid says.
The referendum on the upcoming November ballot that Boone County residents will be voting on actually includes two separate referendums for ZCS — a facilities referendum and an operating referendum. The facilities referendum aims to provide bonding authority to build a new elementary school, expanding and modifying Zionsville Community High School, as well as improvements to other schools in the district.
Currently, according to Zionsville Yes!, two elementary schools are already at capacity and the high school is nearing capacity. The facilities referendum will provide “additional classroom space that will protect class sizes, eliminate the need for semi-annual redistricting and safeguard curriculum.”
After the 2010 referendum failed, class sizes skyrocketed. According to ZionsvilleYes.com, there were 223 classes with more than 30 students and 45 classes with 35-plus students.
Those numbers alone, Zionsville Yes! hopes will catch the attention of ZCS parent voters.
“We have had more than 200 new students a year for the past decade,” Reid says. “We have a very reliable study that shows there will be at least another 200 students per year for the next decade as well. So, we need that new elementary school and 32 new classrooms at the high school by 2023.”
The operating referendum extends the current referendum for eight years and will protect class sizes from exploding, fund at least one-third of all teachers and 100% of referendum dollars will stay in Zionsville to fund the teachers.
Even those parents with toddlers or younger students that aren’t quite to the elementary or high school grade levels can be impacted by the referendum.
“Even parents with small children, this becomes your reality very quickly,” Reid says. “Once your kids enter school, time goes by quickly. You want the best educators and best curriculum available to them. If this referendum were to fail, there is no quick fix. You have to wait at least another year before you approach another referendum. The pain that the schools feel and that the students feel is immediate. We know that our school district has put together a very thoughtful plan. They’ve addressed the space need and a great timeline for construction.”
“The fact is if this referendum doesn’t pass, just like in 2010, you will have overcrowded classrooms, a loss of a third of our teachers and program cuts,” Copher adds. “A lot of newer parents, or even those with kids in middle school or elementary school, probably don’t have much knowledge of what happened back in 2011 and 2012. They may think someone will take care of it, but this can’t be taken care of without the proper funds.”
For those residents who are empty nesters, parents with newborns or even those with no children at all, the thought process is likely that the referendum won’t affect them that much. That voter group, oftentimes, is more likely to abstain or glaze over that part of the ballot come November. Still, Reid and Copher both urge that the referendum does impact those voters as well because of the negative effect on property values if it were to fail.
When the referendum failed in 2010, according to zillow.com, Zionsville home values dropped significantly while neighboring home values increased. Zionsville Yes! insists that the value of homes is directly related to an excellent reputation of Zionsville Community Schools.
“The property values are a big thing,” Copher says. “In 2010, when that referendum didn’t pass, the property values in Zionsville went down, while communities around us went up. There is plenty of evidence out there showing that direct correlation between strong schools and increased property value. We want to attract businesses to set up shop in Zionsville, too. Those businesses are not going to want to invest here if they can’t draw a good labor pool and be in a place that wants to support the school system.”
Ahead of November, Reid and Copher urge Boone County residents to visit ZionsvilleYes.com and ZCS.k12.in.us for more information and statistics. The group will also be sending out mailers to inform local residents, too.
Zionsville Yes! also encourages parents to get involved. Currently, they have about two dozen, core people that help out.
“But there are more than 100 people that end up helping with different volunteer activities like putting up yard signs and door hangers before the election,” Reid says. “We always have people at the polls on election day thanking people for voting, too. So we do have a lot of community support and parents that contribute where they can.”
Interested parents can also visit ZionsvilleYes.com to see upcoming volunteer opportunities.