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Christina residents vote on referendum Tuesday

Delaware Public Media

Another referendum is before residents in the Christina School District Tuesday.

And if it fails, major cuts would be made throughout the district.

There are two operating expense questions and two for capital improvements. In both cases, the first question must be approved for the second one to be considered.

If the tax increase for the operating budget fails, $10 million dollars in cuts are coming, leaving Christina with no sports, no program for gifted and talented children, and no extracurricular or co-curricular activities.

It would also mean no more Montessori Academy, no district-wide strings program, no instrumental music in elementary schools, and no instructional coaches and curriculum specialists in key subject areas. 

Also, 67 jobs would be eliminated, most of them teachers.

The first part of the operating budget request seeks an increase of 29 cents per $100 of assessed value starting July 1, and another 5 cents in July 2021 and 2022. For the average property owner, a successful referendum would add $185.99 to their tax bill in the first year, and an additional $32.05 in the second and third years.

The funds would restore budget restrictions made last year and reduce class sizes while maintaining existing programs, and upgrading and maintaining technology.

The funds would also upgrade and maintain extracurricular activities, recruit and retain staff, cover necessary operating expenses like utilities and contracted service, and sustain operations affected by reductions in state funding.

If the first part passes, voters can also approve an additional 5 cent increase to fund for the district’s new elementary English Language Arts curriculum. That would cost the average property owner $32.05 if approved.

The Capital Improvements requests seek to raise $4.5 million to cover the district’s share of renovations at the Christina Early Education building (renovating the mechanical and electrical systems), and Marshall and Leasure elementary schools (ventilation and air conditioning systems) - and another $5.5 million for renovations at Christiana High School (classroom renovations), Downes Elementary (construction of new classrooms for Chinese language immersion program), and renovating Newark High School’s auditorium for a new arts program. 

If both capital requests pass, the average property owner would see $7.82 added to their annual tax bill.   

The district’s capital improvements tax rate would begin to decrease after two years as previous bond issues are retired. 

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m Tuesday. The list of polling places can be found here.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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