Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Referendum?
Indiana law (IC 20-46-1) permits a school corporation to seek voter approval via a referendum to impose a tax levy to raise additional General Fund revenue.

What is this referendum for? 
Monies from the referendum will go directly to the district’s General Fund, which is used for Operating expenses such as salary, benefits, supplies, and utilities. 94% of the General Fund is used for staff salary and benefits.

The General Fund is one of six funds that make up the Carmel Clay Schools Budget. The other funds are Capital Projects, Transportation, Referendum, Debt Service, and Bus Replacement. State law prohibits the transfer of monies between the funds. 

Why do we need the referendum?
In 2009, Indiana legislators reformulated how public education is funded.  There were two major consequences to this legislative action: 1) Indiana essentially became a ‘referendum state’ where school districts are now forced to pass regular referendums for a workable amount of funding, and 2) Carmel Clay Schools now receives the second lowest per student funding amount in the State.

But why do we need this referendum now?
In 2010, the Carmel community responded to this inequity and approved an Operational Referendum. This referendum is set to expire December 2017, per state law.  To allow the district to continue doing the excellent work it is currently doing for our students, Superintendent Wahl has recommended this Replacement Referendum:

For Students – Allowing each to continue to experience excellence, explore opportunity, and realize their potential
For Staff – Continued funding to retain and attract the highest quality teachers and staff
For our Community – Maintaining strong schools allows for strong property values and a strong community

What is the school district asking for?
The district is proposing an overall flat school property tax rate of $0.83, the lowest school tax rate in Hamilton county.  However, the referendum fund is only one fund that comprises this overall school tax rate.  The expiring referendum approved a property tax rate of $0.16 per $100 of assessed value but this replacement referendum requests approval for a tax rate of $0.19 per $100 of assessed value.  The overall tax rate is able to remain flat because the Debt Service rate is decreasing approximately $0.03 in 2018, therefore producing an unchanged overall school tax rate.

How can I understand the financial impact better?
The district has dedicated an entire section to further explain school financing and how it affects you.  Please read more at 

How will this Replacement Referendum affect my property value?
Local real estate experts confirm the direct relationship between high-quality schools and high property values.  Nearly 80% of homeowners consider the quality of schools to be important when deciding where to buy a home.

What will happen if the referendum doesn’t pass?
If the referendum doesn’t pass, the district will need to eliminate 260 teachers and staff, which would result in a significant increase in class size.  Academic programs not required for graduation, like AP and dual credit courses, would also be in jeopardy, as well as extracurricular programs like sports, performing arts and school-sponsored clubs. You can find a more detailed breakdown of the people and programs at risk in Superintendent Wahl’s Powerpoint presentation at

Should Carmel Clay Schools ask for a higher tax increase to raise more money?
Carmel Clay Schools works hard to be fiscally responsible. Superintendent Wahl and the school board are confident that the proposed tax rate will allow the district to fund high quality academic and extracurricular programs as well as recruit and retain quality teachers and staff. 

Why does the school district need more money if Carmel can afford so much building?
The Carmel city budget and the Carmel Clay Schools budget are entirely separate budgets and do not co-mingle at all.

Why isn’t my child’s teacher promoting this referendum?
During Carmel Schools 2010 referendum campaign banners were hung in schools, many teachers wore buttons, and staff included email sign-offs promoting a yes-vote for the referendum. The law has since changed and all district employees are significantly limited how and when they can promote this referendum.  The new law limits using school facilities (including school buildings and emails) and limits staff to off-the-clock time to promote the referendum.  However, staff can get involved during their personal time if they so choose.

When is the election? 
The election is Tuesday, May 2, 2017.  Because there is no regular election, this is considered a Special Election and this referendum question will be the only item on the ballot.  

How do I vote?
You can vote “Yes” May 2nd at your regular voting site Tuesday, May 2nd between 6am-6pm.  Absentee voting begins April 10th. 

Can I vote early?                                                                      Yes! Please cast your Yes! Vote prior to May 2nd.
Option #1 April 10th -28th (Monday - Friday)  8am to 4:30pm
Option #2 Saturday: April 22nd & April 29th    9 am to 4pm
Option #3 Monday, May 1st  8am to 12pm
Location: Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center on the Courthouse Square in Noblesville.