The Indian River School District will host a current expense referendum March 2 and will seek additional funding to accommodate a large increase in student enrollment during the past seven years.
Since 2010, the district’s total enrollment has grown by 1,681 students and officially stands at 10,467. Enrollment has grown by an additional 283 students since the state’s annual unit count Sept. 30, thus pushing the total above 10,700. A growth rate of 3 to 4 percent per year is expected to continue into the future and the district projects its enrollment to exceed 12,000 by 2022.
The district is proposing a tax increase of 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value. This will raise $7,350,000 in additional local revenue. Complicating matters are anticipated cuts in state education funding for fiscal year 2018. This could require every district in the state to reduce its budget anywhere from 2.5 to 10 percent. In Indian River, this could cost the district between $2.4 million and $9.5 million.
If the referendum is not approved by voters, the district could face up to $13 million in budget cuts, cuts to school safety, a reduction in staff due to an inability to meet payroll, larger class sizes, the loss of staff to other school districts and inadequate instructional supplies and materials. The district could potentially lose 90 teachers, 20 paraprofessionals, 12 food service staff, 10 custodians and seven secretaries. Five administrative contracts were not renewed for 2017-18 in addition to the five administrative positions that are currently being left unfilled.
Voting will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 2. Residents of the Indian River School District who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old are eligible to vote at any one of the following polling places: East Millsboro Elementary, 29346 Iron Branch Road; Georgetown Elementary, 301-A W. Market St.; Indian River High School, 29772 Armory Road, Dagsboro; Long Neck Elementary, 26064 School Lane, Millsboro; Lord Baltimore Elementary, 120 Atlantic Ave., Ocean View; and Selbyville Middle School, 80 Bethany Road.
Proof of identification or residency is required at each polling place. Residents do not have to be property owners in order to vote. If the referendum is postponed due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled for March 16.
Voter registration is not required. Acceptable proofs of identity, name and address include, but are not limited to, state of Delaware driver’s license; state of Delaware automobile registration card; state of Delaware ID card; work ID with photo and address; credit card with photograph and signature; document identifying person by photograph or signature; recent utility bill, rent receipt, business letter setting forth the person’s address or telephone directory listing in the current issue of the phone book; or any other reasonable document that identifies the person’s address.
Absentee voting is handled by the Sussex County Department of Elections, 119 N. Race St., Georgetown. Absentee ballots are available by mail until noon Feb. 24 and in person until noon March 1.
For information about the referendum, visit irsd.net/referendum or call 436-1079.