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Smyrna School District holds referendum for capital and operating expenses this March

Smyrna School District Superintendent Susan Brown presents details on the upcoming referendum.
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
Smyrna School District Superintendent Susan Brown presents details on the upcoming referendum.

The Smyrna School District asks residents to approve tax increases for capital projects and operating expenses this spring.

Residents supported Smyrna’s 2021 capital referendum to purchase more land, build a new school, and make additions and renovations to two others.

But inflation and market pressures added nearly $37.5 million to construction costs, so they are asking residents to support a tax increase to cover that.

Director of Operations Roger Holt says the new space is needed in the second largest geographical district in the state. Within town limits, there are over 2,000 residential building lots available, and the district already added around 1000 students, growing from 5000 to 6000 students over the last ten years.

“We understand that this is very important for our referendum to pass so we can build those schools," Holt says. The generational impact of schools is something that is very important and we hope everyone considers on Saturday, March 9, that a ‘yes’ vote is going to change and support our community for generations to come, not just this year.”

Smyrna is also seeking an increase for operating revenue to hire constables for every school building, deliver more mental health services, maintain competitive faculty and staff salaries, enhance technology, and provide extracurriculars at the new middle school.

The financial impact on the average resident if both increases pass is around $270 per year. Superintendent Susan Brown argues it's worth it as the district prepares for more growth.

“When we have great schools, people want to move here, people want to enroll their students in our schools," Brown says. "So the return on that investment really does bridge out and mushroom out into the community.”

The local share of the capital projects is 23 percent, the state will foot the remainder of the bill.

Smyrna School District goes to referendum on Saturday, March 9.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.