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Colonial School District preps for second referendum under state funding uncertainty

Earlier this month, The Colonial School Board voted to hold second referendum vote June 6th.  The district’s first attempt in February failed.

This week, we sat down with Colonial superintendent Dusty Blakey to discuss the district’s referendum attempt and the difficulties districts face with funding in the current climate.

The district's second attempt referendum again seeks an additional 38 cents per $100 of a home's assessed value – phased in over two years - to bolster district’s operating budget by 10.9 million dollars. That request lost by a nearly 900-vote margin in February.

Colonial is also dropping its capital request of 1.4 cents per $100 of assessed value – which failed by 540 votes in February.  That would have raise $4.7 million to install secure entrances at all district schools over 3 years.

Colonial officials say that should this referendum fall short with voters, they’ll need to make 4 million dollars in cuts.  That would require the elimination of 170 jobs across all departments, increasing class sizes and other cost saving moves.

The second referendum try comes against the backdrop of proposed state cuts to education funding offered in Gov. John Carney’s budget plan.  His plan would cut a combined $37 million that trickles down to each school district – $22 million of which the districts could make up by unilaterally raising property taxes without a referendum.

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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