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Colonial School District tax referendum fails

Residents in the Colonial School District rejected a tax referendum Tuesday.

Voters said “no” to a tax hike of 39.4 cents per $100 of a home's assessed value, phased in over two years.

The portion of that ask slated to bolster the district’s operating budget by $10.9 million failed by 894 votes.  The piece earmarked to raise $4.7 million for capital spending was defeated by 540 votes.

The district intended to use the new operating dollars to maintain its current staffing levels and upgrade technology at schools.  It also planned to expand its preschool program and build its elementary school wellness program, while continuing its middle school redesign that focuses on specialized themes at each middle school

The new capital budget funds were slated to install secured entrances in all district schools over the next three years.

In a statement, Colonial superintendent Dusty Blakey said he was "disappointed" by the result.

"Now that the voters have spoken, tough decisions must be made that will impact programs, class size, and personnel,” said Blakey in his statement. "The district feels strongly about the work we’re doing and the path forward so we will  ask our school board for the opportunity to hold another referendum.”

The Colonial School District last asked for a tax increase in 2013.  Its first attempt also failed.  The second attempt passed by a narrow 67-vote margin after the district dropped it tax hike request by 12 cents.

Indian River School District holds its second try referendum Thursday. Its first try failed by 30 votes in November days after a state auditor's reported detailed financial mismanagement by a former administrator. Earlier this week, the auditor's office offered a follow-up report that gave Indian River high marks for its work to address the issues it found.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for 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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