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Smyrna School District will retry referendum, but only for new school funding

Delaware Public Media

The Smyrna School District amends its referendum request and holds a second-try vote on June 6.

The district asked residents to increase property taxes in March for operating and capital expenses. The operating ask failed by about a 300-vote margin and the capital request by around 200.

On this second try - it is dropping the operating portion and offering a more limited capital request.

In March, the capital portion sought $37.5 million for projects voters already approved in 2021, but now face added costs due to inflation.

Now, the district only seeks the local share for a new school on Rabbit Chase Lane That’s about $4.2 million which Superintendent Susan Brown says will cost residents less than a cup of coffee each month.

“For $1.44 a month, or about $17 a year, that’s our ask this time in order for us to complete our project for a brand new building and then be able to address not only the growth, but then our growth plan and what that looks like in terms of aligning our school buildings and not having overcrowded classrooms," Brown says.

Brown says they can move ahead with the other two capital expansion projects after receiving bids in line with funding already available to the district.

Brown notes it will reevaluate the operating budget to find other ways to address priorities such as new constables, extracurriculars and teacher salaries.

“But it was clear our community was not ready to approve that," Brown says. "So our board as well as the administration, we have had conversations around the possibility of another operating referendum, right now it’s really just in discussion, and our goal right now is to make sure that we get the market pressure funds for the new intermediate building.”

The district will host two public town hall meetings to answer residents questions ahead of the vote on May 21 at 6 p.m. at Smyrna Elementary and June 4 at 6 p.m. at Clayton Intermediate.

They will also host "Coffee with SSD" at the Smyrna Diner on May 15 at 10:30 a.m. The district will provide coffee and light snacks, and representatives will be available to discuss the referendum and answer any questions.

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.