Voters to hit the polls today for Indian River referendum

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Voters in the Indian River School District will hit the polls today for a capital expense referendum.

If passed, the funding would be used to build a new Sussex Central High School and manage growth in the district, which Indian River Superintendent Mark Steele told WGMD’s Mike Bradley shows no signs of changing anytime soon.

“From being somebody that’s been in this district for 39 years and lived here my entire life, I never dreamed I would see the amount of growth that we see,” Steele explained. “I can tell you over the next three years we’re going to grow six hundred students just based on progression.”

Steele said he anticipates the district will reach a capacity of 12,000 kids by 2024, 2025.

If the referendum passes, it would pave the way for the district to implement its plan to tackle the overcrowding by transitioning its existing schools accordingly by building a new Sussex Central High School.

All students from Millsboro Middle, and some from Georgetown Middle, would be placed at the new middle school located in the current building of Sussex Central High School, according to Fritz, who said that would free up Millsboro Middle School which would then be turned into an elementary school to free up space at other area elementary schools.

“One building is going to solve a ton of overcrowding at multiple buildings,” Fritz said. “If we build a new Sussex Central High School, which the numbers would be for 2,200 kids, it would then free up the current Sussex Central High School building and we would turn that into a middle school.”

The maximum property tax increase needed to fund the district’s 40-percent local share ($58,437,700) of the Sussex Central High School construction project is 28 cents per $100 of assessed value. However, market factors such as the interest rate on bonds could reduce this amount to about 22 cents. This equates to a tax increase of between $49 and $64 for the average district property owner.

Voting is from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

District residents who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote at the following local polling places: East Millsboro Elementary School, Georgetown Elementary School, Indian River High School, Long Neck Elementary School, Lord Baltimore Elementary School and Selbyville Middle School.

This marks the third attempt by the district to pass the referendum to tackle the overcrowding issue. The district’s last attempt failed by a margin of 65 votes.