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Signs on the doors at the main entrance alert visitors of the need for photo identification to gain access within the school. 

FLOYD COUNTY – She’s a parent of a fifth-grade student at Scribner Middle School.

She’s a volunteer, who helps underprivileged students get the resources they need.

Now, Misty Ronau has been named the leader of the PAC – the political action committee tasked with getting Floyd County taxpayers to approve a school safety referendum.

New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. is tackling a newer topic, thanks to a new law passed last summer that allows schools to pursue a referendum to pay solely for safety needs, such as improving the safety of school buildings, hiring more school resource officers, offering more counseling and support to students and more. For months, the school board has weighed the options of how much to seek from taxpayers, what that money should fund and how to gather enough support to get the referendum to pass.

“We know that school safety might not be a daily dinner table conversation for the average Floyd County family. We know that our children understand the importance of the topic of school safety and school violence. These are conversations that children are a part of. They take part in drills that have become standard in schools, like fire drills, but those aspects of school safety are reactive,” Ronau said. “This referendum is really an opportunity to provide prevention and intervention for kids who need services… It’s really an opportunity for our community as a whole to buy in and invest in these children who are literally the future of Floyd County.”

Time is quickly running out for the district. If the board wants to pursue having the referendum question given to voters in the May primary, the board must finalize and approve the wording at its Feb. 10 meeting.

On Monday night, board members analyzed a proposed ballot question that posed raising the tax rate 8.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation. If approved at that rate, that would open up more than $3.1 million annually for eight years to pay for various safety needs, according to Chris Street, chief financial officer for NAFC.

Once the board votes on Feb. 10, the issue is out of the district’s hands and it’s up to the PAC to get the word out to voters.

Ronau is confident in her charge.

“We have a good team,” she explained, adding that supporters have gathered together over the months. “I believe we have a team that is very dedicated to ensuring that we continue to invest in this community. Our schools are the backbone of this community. The overall health and wellness of these kids ensures the health and wellness of the future of our community.”

NAFC isn’t alone is seeking to take advantage of a school safety referendum. Carmel Clay Schools passed a $40 million school safety referendum this past November.

Superintendent Brad Snyder told the school board that he has heard of a lot of support from community members. He said two upcoming town hall meetings next week will give others a chance to hear a presentation from him about the proposal as well as ask questions.

Steve Griffin, assistant superintendent, told the board that he is working to finalize a website update that will include a link for frequently asked questions, a calculator for people to figure out the cost to them and more. He said that should be ready in about a week.

Board members were asked to give any edits to the proposed question wording by the end of this week, so that it can be submitted early to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for a preliminary review. That early review is so that the board has time to make changes before the final deadline in February, according to Jane Herndon, legal representative for the board.

• Also at the meeting, the board reorganized, naming new officers. Elaine Murphy will serve as president, Joe Brown will serve as vice president and Elizabeth Galligan will serve as secretary.

Reporter

I cover education and government for the News and Tribune.

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