Sussex Tech continues efforts to replace its current school building.
District officials cite mounting maintenance and upkeep costs for its 60-year-old campus as reasons a new building is needed.
Sussex Tech superintendent Stephen Guthrie says a feasibility study of the current building on Route 9 in Georgetown outlined changes in its use since it was built, “In fact the main part of the school - the main structure of the school - the core of the school - was built in the 1960’s when the school was just a Vo-Tech. Students would come here for just a half-a-day and then they would go back to their home school district’s. In the early 90’s, Delaware changed to a full-time, comprehensive Vo-Tech model.”
Guthrie notes additions - including wings jutting out from the core of the building - and 20-plus outbuildings have already been used to accommodate those changes and Sussex Tech’s adult education classes.
Guthrie says the district sought a certificate of necessity from the Delaware Department of Education (DOE), the first step in obtaining state funding for a more than $150 million ($150.5) replacement school.
“It would sit right behind the current school. It would take about three years to complete,” said Guthrie.
Guthrie says its plan was not selected this year because projects at other schools ranked higher using the state’s priority criteria, which emphasizes school capacity over maintenance costs.
“The why was not a surprise," Guthrie said. "Delaware is a growing state; the school systems in specific parts of the county, especially in New Castle and in some parts of Sussex County where we’re located - are growing. We have a major need in Delaware for capacity projects; schools are overcrowded. They’re dealing with high-class size and students in portable buildings.”
But Guthrie says Sussex Tech will apply again next year.
Guthrie notes a recent district feasibility study outlined three options, with a replacement school being the cheapest choice.
Renovation options would cost at least $177.6 million, largely due to the need to create temporary career-technical classrooms and labs suitable for industry-standard equipment while work was going on, as well as making upgrades to existing infrastructure.
The replacement school would cost the average Sussex County homeowner just about $3.18 per month at the peak of the tax increase, if approved by referendum.