The Shore Democrats will hold a special meeting on Monday, February 13th from
10:00 a.m. to 12 noon at the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach to address two very urgent issues.
- The first item to be discussed is the "Current Expense Referendum" for the Indian River School District, which was voted down by a margin of 20 votes on November 22nd. A second referendum will be presented on March 2, 2017. Mark Steele, the Superintendent of the IR District, will be making a presentation at the February 13th meeting, accompanied by Jan Steele (no relation), Director of Business for the district.
The referendum seeks additional local funding for school safety programs, measures related to enrollment growth, and student services and support including technology, textbooks, student organizations and transportation.
Voting on March 2 will be from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Residents of the Indian River School District who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age are eligible to vote at any one of the following polling places: East Millsboro Elementary, Georgetown Elementary, Indian River High School, Long Neck Elementary, Lord Baltimore Elementary and Selbyville Middle School. Proof of identification or residency is required at each polling place. Residents DO NOT have to be property owners in order to vote.
The district is proposing a tax increase of 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value. The measure will raise $7,350,000 in additional local revenue. The average district taxpayer will see an increase of $95.41 in his or her annual property tax bill.
If the referendum is not approved by voters, the district could face up to $13 million in budget cuts (one-third of total budget), cuts to school safety, a significant reduction in staff due to an inability to meet payroll, larger class sizes, the loss of staff to other school districts and inadequate instructional supplies and materials. The district could potentially lose 90 teachers, 20 paraprofessionals, 12 food service staff, 10 custodians and 7.5 secretaries. Five administrative contracts were not renewed for 2017-2018 in addition to the five administrative positions that are currently being left unfilled.
The chart below provides a breakdown of the tax increase and the amount of revenue to be generated:
Proposed Expenditure Tax Increase Revenue
Student enrollment growth 33 cents $4,950,000
School safety 8 cents $1,200,000
Student services and support 8 cents $1,200,000
TOTAL 49 cents $7,350,000
Student enrollment growth – Funding will be used to hire the teachers and paraprofessionals authorized through the annual unit count. The tax increase will also fund the purchase of additional supplies, materials and furniture to accommodate student enrollment growth.
School safety – This expenditure includes the continued funding of the district’s 15 armed school safety monitors, five School Resource Officers and two district investigators. Additionally, it will fund improvements to doors and windows and the purchase of radios, school and bus cameras, card readers and other security devices.
Student services and support – Increased tax dollars will be invested in technology upgrades, textbook adoptions, student organizations and other support services for students. Funding will be used for computer/tablet purchase and replacement; SMART board replacements; switch expansions/replacements; software license upgrades; textbook adoptions during the next three years in English language arts, math, social studies, science, art, music, dance and theater; and support for student clubs such as Odyssey of the Mind, Business Professionals of America (BPA), Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), FFA, robotics teams and Math League. Funds may also be used for additional services that directly benefit students.
If the referendum is postponed due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled for Thursday, March 16, 2017.
- The second issue for discussion on February 13th is the upcoming special election for Stephanie Hansen in State Senate District 10.