After the polls had closed and all the votes had been counted Tuesday night, the Appoquinink School District’s two-part referendum passed by an overwhelming margin.
When the final numbers were announced, a cheer erupted at the district’s Marion E. Proffitt Training Center in Odessa where the board of education members and administrators were meeting for a workshop session.
“We said from the start that if our parent community believed in it and came out to support it, this would pass overwhelmingly,” Superintendent Matt Burrows said. “That’s what happened.”
Burrows went on to thank all of those who helped contribute to the referendum’s overwhelming success in a short speech after the vote totals were announced.
“We’re very grateful to the community for supporting our school system,” Burrows said. “I’m happy. I’m relieved, and the real winners are our kids.”
Referendum co-chair Jason Wall said the successful was the result of a team effort and community support.
“Today’s referendum represented the best of what can be achieved when we come together,” said Walls. “I’d like to thank the Friends of the Appoquinimink Referendum for their countless hours volunteering, also our parents, educators, School Board members and the community for sharing our vision. Public education is the winner tonight.”
The proposal to issue bonds to build three new schools and renovate two others passed 5,506 to 2,102, with 72 percent voting yes.
The request to increase funding of day-to-day operational costs passed with 67 percent of the vote, 5,152 to 2,496. That money will be used for staff recruitment and retention, technology, items such as books and desks, and paying contractor fees for buses.
Voters showed support at nearly all of the voting sites, approving both parts of the referendum in each area except for two, the Appoquinimink Activity Center and Townsend Fire Hall. The fire hall was the only site to see both parts of the referendum voted down, with 55 percent voting against the operational budget and 51 percent turning down the school construction plan. The voters at the Activity Center voted down the increase in operational funds, while voting yes to the school construction portion of the referendum.
The referendum results will be certified Thursday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. by the New Castle County Department of Elections in the Carvel State Building.
School construction proposal
The construction projects approved in the referendum include a new high school and a new middle school on the district’s Fairview Campus between southeast of Odessa, a new elementary school in the Town of White Hall development, and renovations to Silver Lake Elementary and Everett Meredith Middle School.
“Our plan is ambitious,” Burrows said. “We’ll open the new elementary in 2019, and add a new middle and high school by 2020. Using a concept called swing space, students from the two existing schools (Silver Lake Elementary, Everett Meredith Middle) will move into the new middle and high school for a short time until the renovation/expansion at their buildings can be completed. We’ll graduate our first class from the new high school in 2024.”
Crowded conditions at many schools spurred the request for the referendum.
Burrows said district enrollment has grown by 766 students in the past two years and by more than 3,000 in the last decade.
Property tax increase
The total property tax increase in the district will be 23.54 cents for every $100 dollars of assessed property value.
For example, the owner of a home with a $250,000 market value assessed at $77,500 by New Castle County will pay an additional $15.20 a month or $182.40 per year.