At the Dec. 10 school board meeting, board members acknowledged those who have been speaking out on social media against the Dec. 17 referendum. They want to make sure the public is making an educated decision at the polls.

Some MOT residents on Facebook have expressed disapproval of the Appoquinimink School District’s referendum, but the school board members are asking them to consider the facts.

At the Dec. 10 school board meeting, Superintendent Matt Burrows and board president Richard Forsten acknowledged those who have been speaking out on social media against the Dec. 17 referendum. They want to make sure the public is making an educated decision at the polls.

Forsten read a prepared statement he called “a note to the naysayers” during the meeting, which discussed some of the misinformation about the school district and referendum going around Facebook and other social media.

“I’m always disappointed by those who express strong views but do not provide facts or statistics to back them up,” he said. “I understand people are reluctant to vote to raise their own taxes … but if you are going to make claims, I simply ask please check out the facts first.”

In October, the school board decided to take a three-part referendum to public vote Dec. 17. It is for operational and capital expenses, such as teacher salary increases, land acquisition, new school buildings and a roof replacement. 

The three proposals amount to about $81 million, $74.8 million for capital and $6.2 million for operational expenses. About $44.1 million is coming from state sources and $36.9 million locally.

During the meeting, Burrows said the board has put in a lot of effort to get the facts out to the public and wants people to make an educated vote.

“I encourage you to look at the facts, look at the correct information and then make a decision on that,” he said. “Not just on zingers that you can zing out there that are popularly said.”

Forsten listed nine facts about Appoquinimink, among them: it is the fastest growing school district in the state, has the lowest cost per student in New Castle County, is below state average on spending per student and has the lowest teacher salaries in the county.

“The school board and the administration take their charge regarding finances seriously,” he said. “We are not spending money freely, we are sending money wisely … Claims of fiscal irresponsibility, or spending money unwisely, are simply not justified.”

The schools added 435 kids at the beginning of the 2019-20 session, with another 127 since. About 1,900 have come in the past five years.

He said it seems popular for people on Facebook to attack staff, administrators and teachers, but they have nothing to do with the state’s referendum process.

“It’s the system we have. It’s the way we have to go about funding the school, unfortunately,” Burrows said. “We’re very fortunate people choose to come here and we have the significant growth.”

The Appo district grows by the equivalent of an elementary school every year, a middle school every two years and a high school every three, he said.

Eligible voters can visit any of the 16 polling locations Dec. 17.