Indian River Plans for Expansion, Potential Referendum - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Indian River Plans for Expansion, Potential Referendum

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 6:38 PM Updated:
Georgetown schools have seen some of the largest enrollment increases, along with Millsboro (Source: WBOC) Georgetown schools have seen some of the largest enrollment increases, along with Millsboro (Source: WBOC)

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- The Indian River School District says rapidly increasing enrollment is requiring them to expand.

According to a major capital plan just released by the district, the Indian River School District is already seven years ahead of enrollment projections. Superintendent Mark Steele says they are seeing the most growth in the northern end of the district, like Georgetown and Millsboro. Steele says the district must start planning now before even more students call the Indian River School District home.

"We are going to have some schools that could be almost 33 percent over capacity in 2024 if we don't address the issue now," Steele tells WBOC. 


Steele says if their certificate of necessity is approved by the state, the state will pay for sixty percent of the projects. What those projects are exactly has yet to be determined. Options range from building new schools to expanding existing ones.

"It's easy to say 'Alright, we have to build a middle school, an elementary, a high school and another school in the South.' But that's not feasible," Steele explains. "That's really a bad business plan. What we need to do is say 'Okay, use what we've got existing, what do we have to add so that we can make sure that we are under the limit but also still have a little bit of room for growth by utilizing our existing buildings.' And should we build a new building we really don't want to get into building multiple buildings."


Steele says if they don’t expand they’ll be forced to use modular classrooms. But if their certificate of necessity and the state’s sixty percent funding is approved, they’ll have to find the remaining forty percent somewhere else. It’s possible they’ll turn to the taxpayers for another referendum.

"One thing we don't want is to burden them again on the tax end of things," Steele says. "So we have to come up with ways to increase capacity to try to solve our problem for the future without having a massive number, amount of debt for the community to have to pay back."

If the projects do go to referendum, any tax increase approved would be temporary, as it is for capital projects and not current expense. Steele says the next steps in the major capital plan is to receive community feedback.

The district’s major capital plan can be found here.

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