MSD Wayne Board of Education to Allow 2015 Operational Referendum to Expire

Citing improved financial conditions, the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township has decided to allow its 2015 operational referendum to expire. The MSD Wayne Board of Education finalized this decision by passing a resolution at its regular meeting on January 3.

The seven-year referendum was passed by 64.2 percent of Wayne Township voters in May of 2015. At that time, a number of factors created financial difficulties for the district. Those factors included the passage of the state’s property tax caps in 2007; inadequate per-pupil funding from the state; and dramatically reduced assessed valuation of property in Wayne Township. In addition, the district was losing millions of dollars in desegregation money as that program was being phased out.

“We made significant budget cuts leading up to 2015 as a result of the financial constraints we were facing,” said MSD Wayne Board of Education President Ben Wakefield. “It came to the point, however, where we were forced to look at further cuts that would harm our ability to serve students as well. That’s when we asked our community to consider an operational referendum, and voters responded with strong support.”

The 2015 referendum asked voters to increase property taxes by 35 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.  During the seven years of the 2015 referendum, the district was able to generate between an additional $9.6 – $12.8 million per year as property values have increased. These monies have helped the district support its transportation operations, repairs to buildings and capital equipment identified in the district’s preventive maintenance plan, safety training for operations staff, and technology purchases and service agreements.

Continued financial challenges led MSD Wayne to seek additional community support with another referendum in 2019. That referendum passed by a margin similar to the 2015 referendum.

Since 2019, however, the district’s financial situation has improved, for several reasons. Assessed valuation in the district has grown by an average of six percent the past three years, versus almost no growth during the previous eight years. State support for per-pupil revenue has increased an average of 2.7 percent annually during the last four years, compared to zero percent growth from 2015-2019.

The district has also taken numerous additional steps to reduce expenditures. A reconfigured district financial team has become engaged in long-range financial forecasting and creating opportunities to maximize efficiencies. Throughout the district, energy-saving strategies (such as replacing diesel buses with those powered by propane) have created increased savings.

“After reviewing our improved financial picture, we took a long, hard look at whether we needed to attempt to renew our 2015 referendum,” said MSD Wayne Superintendent Jeff Butts. “After months of analysis, we decided improved financial conditions, along with our continued commitment to the best possible financial management, had led us to a place where we would not have to ask our voters to support renewing the 2015 referendum this spring.”

“We’re very grateful for the support our community has continued to show us through some very challenging financial times,” said Board President Wakefield. “We could not have continued to offer the very best opportunities to our students without the passage of the 2015 referendum. And we are thankful that we can continue to rely on monies raised by our 2019 referendum. But we are extremely happy to be able to share the news that our 2015 referendum will end at the end of 2022, reducing the burden on Wayne Township taxpayers.”

The resolution passed January 3 by the MSD Wayne Board of Education outlined several steps the district plans to take to continue to reduce its reliance on referendum dollars. Those steps include: offsetting future spending increases through ongoing energy management; continued cost initiative analysis; and advocating for adequate public education funding from the state legislature.

“We will continue to pursue the goals of financial stability, consistently improved staff pay, and an increasing cash balance,” said Dr. Butts. “It will take all of these things to ensure we are able to provide the best services and resources available for our students.”

View the board’s resolution here.

The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township provides multiple pathways to success for more than 16,000 students, preschool through high school. Located on the west side of Indianapolis, MSD Wayne works in partnership with the Wayne Township community to help every learner achieve excellence.  To learn more about MSD Wayne, visit, or follow us on Facebook at and Twitter @WayneTwpSchools and @WayneTwpSuper.