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Indian River voters OK referendum on second try

Delaware Public Media

Indian River School District’s second attempt to pass a tax referendum is successful.

The district’s plan to add $7.4 million to its operating budget was approved with relative ease – passing by a nearly 1,800 vote margin. The Department of Elections unofficial vote tally had 7,091 people voting for the referendum and 5,298 voting against.

Voters said OK to a tax increase of 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value, which will cost the average district taxpayer an extra $95 annually. The same proposal failed by a mere 30 votes in November.  

The failed November vote came on the heels of state auditor’s report detailing financial mismanagement by a former administrator.  This week, the auditor issued a follow-up lauding the district’s work to address the issues it laid out in that initial audit.

District officials say the new funds will pay for additional staff and resources needed to respond steady enrollment growth since 2010 – including nearly 300 more students this school year.

Had it failed, officials say the district faced laying off more than 100 staff members and making other cuts.

Interim Indian River superintendent Mark Steele – in a statement – said he was grateful for the public’s support.

"In my 36 years as a teacher and administrator in the Indian River School District, I have never been more amazed and overwhelmed by the generosity of our parents and community members," said Steele's statement.  "On behalf of our students, staff and Board of Education, I would like to thank everyone who supported this referendum. Because of you, the Indian River School District can continue providing students with exemplary instructional programs into the future."

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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