Residents in the Appoquinimink School District have a referendum vote to consider in December.
District officials want to raise a total of $80.5 million by increasing property taxes 28.37 cents per $100 assessed value. A home with a $250,000 market value would pay $18.32 more a month.
Superintendent Matt Burrows says he’s optimistic the ask will be approved.
“I always like being optimistic, but this comes down to our parents and our teachers,” said Burrows. “We have a very supportive community for them getting out and supporting our kids and getting this thing passed.”
Appoquinimink has seen a 19 percent growth in student population in the past 5 years, making it the third largest school district in Delaware with almost 12,000 students. Brown says the growth trend will likely continue.
The biggest ask in the referendum is $58 million to help buy 142 acres of land at Summit Bridge and build a K-12 campus to open in 2023. The district also plans to establish a new early childhood center by 2021 at a property already acquired.
And Burrows concedes that may only be the start of addressing the district’s long term needs.
“We’re growing a high school every three years. So as we continue to grow in our 10-year plan, we would have to look at 2022 as possibly looking for another middle school and high school at that point to meet the growth that we’re having,” he said.
A second capital request in this referendum seeks just under $17 million to cover replacing some of the district’s current sports fields, roofing and HVAC systems.
A third section of the ballot would raise $5.8 million for operating costs, such as teacher raises, hiring a new safety task force and technology upgrades.
Burrows points out the district suffered state cuts shortly after approving its last referendum in 2016.
“It’s caused $2 million dollars to be taken out of our local operating budget, which is a great impact on us and we made cuts there and those cuts came at the technology level and at curriculum.”
The vote is scheduled for Dec. 17.