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Indian River School District referendum fails in close vote

Residents in the Indian River School District narrowly defeated a tax hike referendum Tuesday.

The district reports it's effort to raise an additional $7.4 million lost by a razor thin 30-vote margin – with 3,321 for and 3,351 against.  The state Elections Department website reports an even closer unofficial vote of 3,321 for and 3,341 against - a mere 20 vote difference.

The plan sought to increase taxes 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value, which District officials said would have added $95 a year to the average taxpayer’s bill.

The bulk of the increase was to go toward hiring more teachers and paraprofessionals to keep up with enrollment growth over the past six years.

"In the coming weeks, we will go back to the drawing board to re-evaluate our needs and formulate strategies to accommodate our rapid growth in student enrollment. The Board of Education will consider many options," said Indian River Superintendent Susan Bunting in statement.

Bunting says one option on the table is trying another referendum next year.

The vote comes on the heels of last week’s state auditor’s report outlining how the district’s former chief financial officer misused funds, intimidated coworkers and skirted state financial rules before suddenly retiring this year.

Indian River School District residents last approved a referendum in 2013.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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