The Appoquinimink School District's two-part referendum will be going to vote Feb. 28, and passing the first part of it is a necessity, said Superintendent Matthew Burrows.
The School Board approved the referendum in November, which if passed, will raise taxes to restore the district's operating funds.
When the recession hit Delaware in 2008, the district suffered massive cuts, Burrows said. Appoquinimink has suffered more than $4 million in state funding cuts.
Education is the second largest expense in the state's budget, and schools all across the state have been impacted.
The first part of the referendum, if passed, will raise school taxes for the average homeowner about $18.96 per month in 2014, and continue to increase in steps until 2017.
It will restore the operation funding and reserves, Burrows said. The money will be used to continue the district's high standard of education and to upgrade textbooks, technology, and maintain the buildings.
If it is not passed, there will be significant staffing cuts on all levels, larger class sizes, and less programs and opportunities for students, he said.
Appoquinimink has already been forced to take over $500,000 in transportation expenses when that portion of the budget was cut.
"The state used to fund certain after school programs, but those have been cut too," Burrows said. "We can't continue with these cuts."
The district was forced to begin making deep cuts into education in 2008 when it saw a 17 percent increase in student enrollment, but a 10 percent in discretionary funding per pupil by the state.
Most of the more than $4 million in state funding cuts have been absorbed by the district by dipping into its reserves, but if the district continues to do that, it will run out of money.
The district is projecting to have only $900,000 left in its reserves by the end of 2013. In 2009, there was $5.4 million in reserve funds, but this number has continued to decrease since then.
"We can no longer dip into our reserves," Burrows said. "It came as a necessity to go out for referendum."
The second part of the referendum, which can only pass if the first part passes, will introduced sports to the district's three middle schools.
Appoquinimink is one of two districts in the state that does not have middle school sports, and the tax rate increase for this will cap at about 35 cents per $100 assessed home value.
No tax assessments have been don't in New Castle County since 1983, Burrows said, and residents in the Appoquinimink District have the fourth lowest tax rate in the county. Voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 28 at Alfred G. Waters Middle School, Brick Mill Elementary School, Bunker Hill Elementary School, Everett Meredith Middle School, Louis L. Redding Middle School, the Marion E. Proffitt Training Center, Middletown High School, Old State Elementary School, Olive B. Loss Elementary School, Silver Lake Elementary School, the Townsend Early Childhood Center, and the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington.