Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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Statement From The City Of Fort Wayne On Annexation And Schools

As the community continues to debate the merits of the City of Fort Wayne’s annexation plan, a lot of discussion has centered around the potential impact on schools. We want to make sure the public is aware of the City’s ongoing attempts to reach compromises and keep open lines of communication with those who could be affected by annexation.

Northwest Allen County Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Chris Himsel has been aggressive in his opposition to the annexation. His focus has been on the potential elimination of bus service as a direct result of annexation.

As Dr. Himsel continues to place blame on the City’s annexation plan for the district’s budget woes, his scare tactics distressing parents and students is both disingenuous and fails to allow for a dialogue seeking collaboration on Fort Wayne and the region’s future.

As outlined below, bussing challenges aren’t new to NACS and the City has met with Dr. Himsel on multiple occasions.

Threat of bus service elimination is long-standing:
Transportation challenges in NACS aren’t new and not a direct result of annexation.

In a 2011 article in the Journal Gazette about the impact of property tax caps, Dr. Himsel discussed the possibility of eliminating bus service.

In a 2013 article in the Journal Gazette about the impact of property tax caps and the future of bussing in NACS, Dr. Himsel indicated the school district was headed down the path of suspending bus service.

In a 2014 article in the Journal Gazette about the impact of property tax caps, Dr. Himsel said NACS’ transportation budget will likely survive through 2017, but without assistance, NACS will have to seek a referendum to raise taxes or suspend bus service.

In another 2014 article in the Journal Gazette about property tax caps, it was noted that NACS has publicly discussed what parents and students might face if things don’t improve – the loss of transportation entirely.

In a 2014 article in the News-Sentinel about the impact of property tax caps, Dr. Himsel said the school district can eliminate bus service, ask for a referendum and hopefully see it pass, or get legislative relief.

Highlights of communication between the City of Fort Wayne and NACS:
In our discussions with Dr. Himsel, we’ve outlined a referendum and helping him get legislative relief, two items he’s previously advocated for. The City also presented an option to gather support for an adjustment to the local option income tax to assist NACS with funding.

March 14, 2016 – Mayor Henry and City staff met with Dr. Himsel to discuss the City’s annexation plan and possible options to offset potential revenue losses.

April 18, 2016 – Mayor Henry met with Dr. Himsel to discuss possible options to assist NACS with potential revenue losses.

May 6, 2016 – The City Administration reached out to Dr. Himsel via telephone to discuss a possible option that would greatly reduce the financial impact on NACS. As of this morning, Dr. Himsel hasn’t returned our call to learn more about an innovative option to help NACS, Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen County Schools.