Millsboro report supports proposed East Millsboro Elementary annexation

MILLSBORO — East Millsboro Elementary School is one step closer to officially becoming part of the town of Millsboro.

Town council’s annexation committee at the Monday meeting reported it found only positives in assessing Indian River School District’s request for annexation, which would bring the 12.87-acre, K-5 school property on Iron Branch Road into town limits.

“We didn’t come up with any reasons not to. It all seems to be pluses for the town, and pluses to the school district, too,” said councilman Tim Hodges, who chaired the annexation committee. “So, the committee recommends that we annex the property.”

“And we already serve water and sewer to the property,” said councilman Larry Gum.
“They (school district) are already paying our in-town rate,” Mr. Hodges said.

In an Oct.25 letter to the town, IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele noted with annexation:
• East Millsboro Elementary School will fall under the jurisdiction for the Millsboro Police Department, which will provide added protection for students;
• zoning will align with Millsboro Middle School (located in town limits on East State Street just down the road from East Millsboro Elementary);
• the school district will continue to have a closer working relationship with the town of Millsboro.

“The biggest advantage seems to be that the town of Millsboro will be able to provide them with a public safety officer, with this annexed,” said Mr. Hodges.
Annexation will open the door for a School Resource Officer partnership with the Millsboro Police Department.

“We would be pursuing a School Resource Officer program in Millsboro Middle and East Millsboro,” said Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway.
With annexation, law enforcement response time would be enhanced albeit ever so slightly.

At present, Millsboro police technically cannot handle a complaint at East Millsboro Elementary unless dispatched by SussCom at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center in Georgetown.
“You could respond without being dispatched. So, theoretically, that could save a few seconds,” said Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson. “In an emergency situation, granted it’s a little bit of a stretch, but it could make a difference. It can lead to a slight improvement in response time in that situation. So, I think it’s a good thing.”

As it stands now, Chief Calloway explained if someone at East Millsboro Elementary dials 9-1-1 for an emergency “it is going to go to the Sussex Communications Center- SussCom, and SussCom is going to evaluate to evaluate what type of emergency they have. If they determine it is an in-progress emergency they will dispatch us directly there,” Chief Calloway said.

“Let’s say they had an out-of-control child and they needed to have someone restrain that child. We would have to be dispatched first from the dispatch center to be able to be allowed to go out of town,” Chief Calloway said.
The elementary school would be annexed at Medium Residential zoning, which allows for schools, churches, parish houses, rectories, funeral homes, libraries, museums, art galleries, municipal buildings, country clubs and community centers.

Council’s vote to accept the annexation committee report was 5-0. Councilman Bradley Cordrey, whose wife works at East Millsboro Elementary, and Mayor Michelle Truitt, who is employed by the IRSD, abstained from the vote.

IRSD’s board of education on July 29 formally voted to proceed with the annexation process.
Joe Booth, IRSD’s Supervisor of Building and Grounds, attended Monday’s council session.
“I’d let the report speak for itself. It was really kind of hard to find any type of negative to this,” said Mr. Booth.

Interestingly, Mr. Booth said that “most people thought that we were already in town.”
With appropriate advertising notice, a public hearing on the annexation proposal will be held at town council’s next meeting, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.

Mr. Hudson believes annexation would bolster the relationship between all parties.
“Just having good relationships with the town and the intimacy that you have is, I think, an advantage to the district and the town,” said Mr. Hudson.
As the school district and town have grown, so has the idea of a partnership.
“Now, the district would like to partner with our agency and town,” said Chief Calloway.

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