Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters has a good post on school referendums in Indiana. There are several of them on the ballot across the state today. Oversimplifying a bit, but generally, when the State took over funding school operating costs, they gave districts the opportunity to request that voters approve an increased property tax to supplement that funding. Interestingly, the wealthiest districts and the poorest districts are most likely to initiate the referendum process with schools in the middle quite a bit less likely to ask the taxpayers for more money. The richest districts tend to get less “complexity” money from the State. (This is money that supplements the base amount and is calculated based on a district’s number of kids getting free/reduced lunch, SNAP benefits, and the like.) So, the rich districts are getting less money and have locals who are willing & able to pay extra. The poorest districts are up against the wall, having greater needs and also initiate the referendum process.
For those schools in the middle, it’s tough to say whether they haven’t needed the money or school leadership simply felt that the voters wouldn’t go for the tax increase. Anyway, I recommend the School Matters post – it has links to some other resources if you want to dig in.