Ball State University economist Michael Hicks had some unwelcome news when he met with leaders of the scenic Ohio River town of Madison last summer after they asked his advice on growing their community.
Despite a long list of assets, ranging from a strong manufacturing base to an abundance of recreational opportunities, he found the community had a weak link: its underperforming schools, measured by metrics and perception.
Hicks, who crunches those kind of numbers in his role as head of BSU's Center for Business and Economic Research, warned the lack of confidence had consequences.
Last Tuesday, May 6, that prediction came to pass: Madison voters overwhelmingly turned down a $40 million referendum request from its school district. The money, to be raised with an increase on property taxes, would have gone toward major construction projects, including a new high school gymnasium.
Out of the 10 school referenda on the ballot across the state in Tuesday's primary election, Madison was the only one that lost. The vote wasn't close: 73 percent of voters said no, including one local Democratic activist who told the local newspaper she asked everyone she knew to do the same.
See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.