Appoquinimink Will Get New Schools
Voters approved a $268.3 million capital referendum Tuesday night that will build a new elementary, middle and high school and expand/renovate an existing elementary and middle school.
The state’s fastest-growing school system has added 766 students in the past two years, capping a decade of growth that has seen enrollment climb by 3,082 pupils.
“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.”
The December 20 referendum contained two ballot items.
Item one requested an Operational Referendum in the amount of 15 cents per $100 assessed for taxes (approximately $3.09 million) to expand technology, address staff recruitment and retention, and pay for the local share of operating expenses resulting from enrollment growth including: textbooks, staff, transportation, furniture, etc. at the new schools.
The second ballot represented a Capital request for $67,080,928.00 – the local share (25%) of funding to needed to construct three new schools and expand/rebuild two existing buildings. This money will be paid with a 20-year bond obligation and required 8.54 cents per $100 assessed for taxes.
The remaining 75% of the cost of school construction projects is $201,242,708.00 and will be paid for by the state.
The passage of both ballot items represents a tax increase of 23.54 cents per $100 assessed for taxes.
There was strong community turnout in Appoquinimink as voters endorsed both ballot items. Unofficial results, released late Tuesday night, showed the first ballot question passed by a vote of 5,152 to 2,496. The margin for the second ballot item was even larger: 5,506 for and 2,102 against.
“We’re very grateful to the community for supporting our school system,” Burrows explained. “I’m happy; I’m relieved; and the real winners are our kids,” he concluded.
“Our plan is ambitious. 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,” he observed.
Burrows indicated that the design phase of the project will begin immediately, and a volunteer parent-Board-staff committee will be formed later this winter to begin formulating a recommendation for revising feeder patterns when the new schools open.
Appoquinimink grandparent and referendum co-chair Dr. Tony Marchio noted, “Once again, this community has shown that education is a priority. This support means we can keep class size, safety and discipline in check, by addressing our physical needs as well as our need to attract and retain the most talented educators into our district and provide technology to our students that will keep them competitive in a global workplace.”
After the numbers were announced to a packed room of volunteers and staff at around 9:00 p.m., parent and referendum co-chair Jason Wall offered the evening’s closing thought, “Our schools succeed or fail to the degree that all of us are willing to be active and involved participants. Today’s referendum represented the best of what can be achieved when we come together. 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 Department of Elections will certify the results on Thursday, December 22 at 2 pm in their office in the Carvel State Building.
The unofficial results are:
Question 1 Operational: Additional Taxes for School Purposes: For: 5,152
Question 2 Capital: Authority to Issue Bonds: For: 5,506